It’s great to hear Phil Twyford celebrating a success. Not a personal ministerial success, it’s fair to say, but a success nevertheless related to arms control.
The arms on which Twyford is focused, it should be noted, will make quite a mess if they are triggered. They tend to be nuclear ones.
Police Minister Poto Williams is similarly focused on arms control.
The arms in this case are not in the same big-bang league as those embraced by Twyford’s portfolio, but their potential to kill is plain enough and inevitably they became a political issue in the aftermath of the mosque massacre in Christchurch last year.
Williams yesterday announced the next steps in the Government’s firearms reform programme, a three-month amnesty aims to remove further firearms and arms items that were prohibited and restricted through the Arms Legislation Act 2020.
The Government has allocated $15.5 million for compensation and administrative costs.
Among other new announcements – Continue reading “Twyford has something to celebrate, but the hard yards were put in on disarmament long before he was given the portfolio”
Chris Liddell has dropped his candidacy to become director-general of the Paris-based OECD. Without support from the Ardern government and vilified in the media as somehow being involved in the encouragement by Donald Trump of the Washington riots, he plainly saw he had little chance of crowning his stellar career in an international post.
Liddell scored highly in the pre-selection rounds and was impressive in his interviews, according to diplomats in Paris. He ended in the second tier behind the top three – from Australia, Sweden and Switzerland. However, as support was not forthcoming from the new Biden administration, he felt obliged to withdraw.
Yet those who have followed his career to the top rungs of international business and then into the White House believe NZ is the loser for not winning a key position in an international forum.
As for condemning him for his role in the White House, his critics display their ignorance. Liddell is one member of the Trump White House credited with gaining credence and respectability around Washington DC in its final days. He kept the wheels of government turning while Trump descended into a world of denial fuelled by right wing media. Continue reading “Chris Liddell – yes, he worked for Trump, and he risked his job by recognising the need for a smooth transition”
PM Jacinda Ardern’s cordial exchange with President-elect Joe Biden went far better than anyone dared hope. Both sides were pleased. As one US official said, they are certainly kindred spirits.
Biden wants to “reinvigorate” the US-NZ relationship which, considering the heights it reached under former Foreign Minister Winston Peters, means Wellington and Washington DC have finally put away any lingering resentments from the 1980s and the Anzus crisis.
Biden is keen to work with NZ on broad Pacific issues but, as he points out, the US will have to work with friends on the task. When everyone circumspectly refers to “issues”, they really mean China with its diplomatic, economic and military ambitions in the Pacific.
Biden and his new Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken (a foreign policy veteran), want to try and reset the US-China relationship.
This week Australian PM Scott Morrison urged Washington and Beijing to “show more latitude” to smaller nations. Partners and allies needed “a bit more room to move” as strategic competition intensifies in the region. Continue reading “Ardern and Biden keen to work together as US restores its relationships with world agencies”
National’s leader, Judith Collins, reckons the government should be supporting Kiwi Chris Liddell in his bid to become the next Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Liddell, who has dual US and NZ citizenship, is serving in the White House as US President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff and was nominated by Trump in September to be the next boss of the OECD.
The NZ government has yet to decide if it will support him, prompting Collins to say Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should “front up” if she has a problem with his work for Trump.
“I would have thought that it is always going to be in New Zealand’s best interest to have a highly qualified, very experienced person like Chris Liddell heading our OECD. It’s far more beneficial to New Zealand than playing politics on it,” Collins told RNZ on Tuesday.
But it’s a complicated picture. Liddell has lived for years in the US and, given Trump’s antipathy to Europe and international organisations, his senior position on Trump’s team may well knock him out of the running.
Trump’s defeat in the presidential elections – yes, we too say Joe Biden has won the presidential election – won’t help either. Continue reading “Thanks to his Trump connections, Kiwi will need a Liddell help from USA’s friends to land top OECD job”
When a Labour government in New Zealand is the subject of a page of commentary in the London-based The Economist, you know it is on a roll. And the Ardern government has won its place in history through its performance in winning a second term so decisively.
Not only that, but the Prime Minister herself has made her own mark on the international stage.
The Economist is impressed with NZ legalising assisted dying, among other progressive steps, and is impressed that NZ’s new foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta, sports a Maori tattoo known as a moko kauae on her lips and chin.
It reports Mahuta as being part of the most diverse cabinet in NZ’s history, appointed by Ardern, following a thumping re-election for the prime minister and the Labour Party she leads. Ethnically, almost half the 20 members are not white and include five Maori. There are eight women, two of whom are lesbians, with young children and the first openly gay deputy prime minister, Grant Robertson. Continue reading ““The Economist” puts spotlight on Ardern and Mahuta – now let’s watch them strut their stuff on the world stage”
Diplomatic eyebrows were raised when PM Jacinda Ardern named Nanaia Mahuta as Minister of Foreign Affairs. She is the first woman to hold the portfolio and she got the job ahead of more highly ranked figures including Andrew Little and David Parker, who were understood to be interested in steering policy in this field.
Mahuta’s only international experience seems to have been as associate trade minister in the previous government but Beehive insiders say David Parker – as Minister of Trade and Export Growth – was loath to let anything of substance out of his reach in that field. In the past three years every press statement in this portfolio was released in Parker’s name except for a few released in the name of Damien O’Connor as Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth. We found none released in Mahuta’s name, although she did issue some trade-related statements as Minister for Maori Development.
As a politician she has been relatively self-effacing, although in her own fields she is said to be thorough and careful. but Ardern offered a powerful rationale for Mahuta’s elevation to one of the key ministries, pointing to her aptitude for building strong relationships. She might also have mentioned that Mahuta listens carefully to her advisers. Continue reading “Mahuta and Henare – key appointments which show NZ no longer should be regarded as a European outpost”
Hey – look whose names appeared on the only press statement to be posted on The Beehive website yesterday, two days after Election Day and the first statement to be posted on the site since October 15.
The names are those of Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark.
And no, they don’t have to pack their bags just yet despite their trouncing at the polls. The rules that apply in the immediate period after election day are spelled out on the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet:
During the government formation process, the current government remains in office, as it is still the lawful executive authority, with all the powers and responsibilities that go with executive office.
But don’t expect anything radical to happen: Continue reading “Peters and Mark remind us they still have ministerial work to do as governmental caretakers”
The Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify PACER Plus, enabling the Pacific regional trade and development agreement to enter into force in 60 days.
Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker has welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands ratified the agreement, which required eight ratifications to take effect.
Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and New Zealand are the eight signatories. The remaining signatories that have not yet ratified the agreement are Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
PACER Plus will make trade easier for signatories to the agreement, which will grow jobs, boost sustainable economic growth and contribute to a safer and more prosperous Pacific, Parker said. Continue reading “PACER Plus to take effect in 60 days after Cook Islands ratifies it”
It defeated US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama but this week Donald Trump did the almost-impossible: bringing two Arab states together with Israel. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump’s foreign policy achievements had counted for zero.
Not since the Camp David accords of 1978 and 2000 or the 1994 peace accord between Israel and Jordan has there been any tangible progress in resolving the Middle East’s most intractable issue until this week when Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed up to normalise relations with Israel.
Modestly, Trump attributed this to his own personal magnetism and ability to “do a deal.” Rather more, it was actually the work of son-in-law Jared Kushner and a contact group led by former British PM Tony Blair.
The White House and Kushner may not have brought peace to the Middle East, but they’ve taken a huge step towards it. Now the real prize is Saudi Arabia. Riyadh will be a harder nut to crack but the Saudis have taken an initial step by allowing UAE airliners to transit its air space, something unthinkable and impossible a month ago. Continue reading “Kushner and Blair (maybe more than Trump’s magnetism) helped secure Middle East accord”
John Bolton’s book on his time as Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser – The Room Where it Happened – is worth reading. His forensic training means he sets out clearly his own actions and their motivations. His recording of the responses of others appears scrupulous, albeit disputed. Failings of omission or judgement in the record seem more probable than failings of accuracy. Continue reading “John Bolton’s White House memoir requires conservatives to do some thinking”