PM’s foreign affairs speech – fortifying what Mahuta said – resonates strongly with the Biden Administration

 It has taken nearly nine months but finally the government has spelled out its foreign policy, much to the relief of neighbours, allies and friends.  Speeches by both Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and now Prime Minister Ardern have been followed closely in many capitals.

It’s no coincidence that President Joe Biden called PM Ardern this week. 

Ostensibly, the call preceded the PM’s Zoom meeting with APEC leaders.  The real reason seems to be that – at last – Washington DC has heard the policy, in person, from NZ ministers.

According to Washington and Wellington the call went well and was cordial. Continue reading “PM’s foreign affairs speech – fortifying what Mahuta said – resonates strongly with the Biden Administration”

State service heads face much the same challenge as journalists – getting through to Ardern’s Ministers is a struggle

Andrea Vance, writing at Stuff, has taken the Ardern government to task for its media “management,” how ministers evade questions, how they deflect interviews and questions all, of course, in the name of the PM’s much-vaunted transparency.

Well, it seems she has stumbled on to something bigger than her focus on journalists struggling to get information.  From our inquiries we have found that heads of departments, ministries and agencies are facing something of the same challenge.

Firstly, ministers are said to be keeping permanent heads at a distance. Some find it hard to secure scheduled appointments.

In the good old days, the permanent head of each department saw his or her minister before Monday Cabinet meetings – and frequently in between.

Now there is a layer of “advisers” between them. Continue reading “State service heads face much the same challenge as journalists – getting through to Ardern’s Ministers is a struggle”

Dragons-and-taniwha speech raises questions about NZ’s future in Five Eyes – and about the extent of Cabinet’s endorsement

Question of the Week:  Will  New Zealand  be  expelled  from Five  Eyes,  following  Nanaia Mahuta’s  speech  on  foreign policy?

NZ Herald’s  political editor  Audrey  Young,  in  a  report  on  Thursday,  wrote:

“NZ  faces the  prospect  of  expulsion   from  the  Five Eyes intelligence alliance, according  to Con Coughlin, defence editor for  the  Daily Telegraph in the  UK.

Coughlin   said  attempts by the other Five  Eyes  countries  (Britain, the  US, Canada  and  Australia) to present a  united  front  against  China  have been thwarted by the  NZ  government’s  preference for  maintaining  cordial ties with  Beijing.

He  referred  to  Jacinda  Ardern  as  “NZ’s  tiresomely woke Prime Minister”, saying  she has a preference  for  “cosying up to China’s  communist rulers”.

“Thanks to  Wellington’s  naïve  decision to prioritise trade  with China over its membership of the elite  Five Eyes intelligence-sharing  network, Ardern  can expect her country’s isolation to deepen even further as  NZ  faces  the very real prospect of expulsion  over its pro-Beijing stance”.     Continue reading “Dragons-and-taniwha speech raises questions about NZ’s future in Five Eyes – and about the extent of Cabinet’s endorsement”

Away with the fairies? A poke in the eye for four NZ allies (and a likely review of the White House guest list) as China policy is refined

With consummate timing, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has stirred up another controversy days ahead of the first visit of her Australian counterpart, Marise Payne.  New Zealand, she says, doesn’t want to use Five Eyes as the first point of contact on a range of issues that existed outside of its remit.

The NZ Herald quoted her as explaining:

“That is a matter that we have raised with Five Eyes partners that we are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of Five Eyes.”

Our Five Eyes partners, Australia, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, are bound to be disappointed, if not dismayed.

They may well wonder if our government is away with the fairies.  The title of Mahuta’s speech was “He Taniwha He Tipua, He Tipua He Taniwha – The Dragon and the Taniwha”.

We were fascinated by that title.

In 2009, academic writer Manying Ip published a 360-page book exploring  how two very different marginalised groups in New Zealand society – Maori and Chinese – had interacted over the past 150 years.

She called it – would you believe? – The Dragon and the Taniwha. Continue reading “Away with the fairies? A poke in the eye for four NZ allies (and a likely review of the White House guest list) as China policy is refined”

Five Eyes – it gives NZ a stronger voice as well as providing insights for shaping policy

Intelligence officials are discounting Helen Clark’s pronouncement that NZ has lost its “independence” through its participation in the Five Eyes intelligence arrangement that links NZ with Australia, Canada, the UK and the US. Her enthusiasm as prime minister for the flood of intelligence is well remembered by the intelligence community.

Rather, they say, in an increasingly troubled world, the arrangement is extending the flow of information and provides Wellington with a stronger voice. It has become a useful tool for promoting shared values and it remains an international forum in which NZ can play a significant role in shaping policy

Earlier this month, as China announced its final assumption of power in Hong Kong, the group issued a rebuke as Washington, London, Ottawa and Canberra criticised China for undermining the “one country, two systems” framework that was meant to determine Hong Kong’s future for 50 years after its handover from British rule in 1997. Continue reading “Five Eyes – it gives NZ a stronger voice as well as providing insights for shaping policy”

Spark will be cheered by endorsement of UK’s handling of the Huawei spying threat

New Zealand  may  have been  presented with  a  model  to  follow  in  dealing  with the Chinese giant technology  firm  Huawei.  According to London’s  “The Economist”  Britain has struck an artful compromise on Huawei and 5G, even though many Americans and other friends of Britain will be appalled by its decision and fear the country is being naive and toadying up to China..

But, in an editorial, The Economist reckons  the UK’s  measured approach to dealing with the controversial Chinese firm is a model for other countries.

Britain’s decision matters: it is a member of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing alliance led by America, and was one of the first Western economies in which Huawei built a presence. Britain also has experience of electronic spying and knows Huawei well.

“Far from being a betrayal, Britain’s approach, of using the firm’s gear on the edges of 5G networks, under close supervision, offers a sensible framework for limited commercial engagement while protecting Britain’s security and that of its allies.” Continue reading “Spark will be cheered by endorsement of UK’s handling of the Huawei spying threat”