NZ’s Defence assets are out of action or over-burdened – so sorry, we can’t help in the Gulf

Defence  Minister    Ron  Mark  was in  ebullient form, telling  Parliament  this  week  how  much he had   achieved  in defence  since he took over the portfolio  from  National’s  Mark  Mitchell.  And it  does  look  an impressive list.

There’s $5.2bn worth of procurement running right now. P-8s—done. Hercules—getting done. Network-enabled army—done. Protected mobility—done. The King Airs, four of them, now flying at Ōhākea—done. New simulator for the NH90s—done”.

So,  when a   request   comes   for   New Zealand  to help in the protection  of vital shipping lanes in the Middle East, one might   think  the Defence  Minister   would   relish the  opportunity  to   deploy  elements  of  the   NZ   Defence   Force.

But  what  was    Mark’s  response  when  asked to  link  with  Australia  in its decision to commit a ship, a surveillance aircraft and defence personnel in the multilateral effort to keep the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman open and safe for ships to pass through? Continue reading “NZ’s Defence assets are out of action or over-burdened – so sorry, we can’t help in the Gulf”

Bishop is given a chance to make an impact in National’s reshuffle

Look deeper than the  headline   moves in  National’s  reshuffle  to  find  the  longer-term  significance.  Those moves included Paul  Goldsmith winning the   prize  of  being   Opposition   Finance   spokesman  and  Gerry Brownlee in taking  on  Foreign  Affairs, not  just  because  he has the capacity  to deploy a  bit of  humour  in  needling  Foreign  Affairs  Minister  Winston Peters,  but  because  he is  signalling  he  is   up  for  another  term.

Insiders   point to  the  leap   through the  ranks   of Hutt South MP Chris Bishop  from  the cross benches.  Still only  36,   but   in his  second term,  Bishop  has converted the   once  traditional  Labour  stronghold  of  Hutt  South   into a National  seat.

In Parliament  as  Opposition  spokesman  on  Police  he has  been effective  in  puncturing  the  government’s   promises on  building up  police numbers by  1800.      Generally  he  has  kept   Police  Minister  Stuart   Nash  on his toes  and kept police   issues  close to   top of the political  agenda—something  that   some of  his seniors have  been able to do in their  areas of  responsibility. Continue reading “Bishop is given a chance to make an impact in National’s reshuffle”

It is much too easy to win headlines – and then be treated leniently – for assaulting MPs

It’s rare for a politician in New Zealand to be mugged while out walking, broadcaster Barry Soper observed after Green Party co-leader James was assaulted in Wellington last week, although many had got into “skirmishes” when out doing their job.

The attack on Shaw prompted the PM to say New Zealanders should be proud of the access New Zealanders have to their politicians, whose job is to serve the people, but this assault showed they can’t take that for granted.

Soper recalled National’s Lockwood Smith once being forced to take a back door out of a university rather than face angry students as Education Minister.

But the last time a politician had been “supposedly attacked” while out walking was Keith Allen, a Minister in the Muldoon Government in 1983. Continue reading “It is much too easy to win headlines – and then be treated leniently – for assaulting MPs”

Green grandstanding about democracy in Canterbury turns out to be rhetorical pap

While the Greens were gurgling early this week about strengthening our democracy through a Member’s Bill, the Electoral Strengthening Democracy Bill, it seems they were musing at the same time about supporting Ngai Tahu’s push to be granted an extraordinary race-based electoral privilege.

According to a Stuff roundup of party positions on legislation with profound constitutional implications, they will vote for the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill at its first reading.  This is an electoral bill crafted to enable  Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu to bypass voters and appoint two representatives with full voting rights to the Canterbury Regional Council.

The Greens accordingly will be supporting an iwi organisation with no respect for the  democratic way of deciding how a community should be governed – it has said restoring full democratic elections would be a “step backwards” for Canterbury.

They also will be ignoring the glaring potential for conflicts of interest which Malcolm Harbrow highlighted on No Right Turn.  Continue reading “Green grandstanding about democracy in Canterbury turns out to be rhetorical pap”

Putting the Sroubek puzzle together is challenging – perhaps a key piece is missing

What’s  the  piece  missing from the  public  gaze  on the  Karel Sroubek scandal and what’s behind the  heavy backing  given to  Iain Lees-Galloway  by  both  the  Prime  Minister  and   the Deputy Prime Minister?

The blunder  the Immigration Minister made  over the  convicted criminal Sroubek  is  one of the  most egregious  by  a  minister  in decades.  He  wouldn’t have survived  under Helen Clark – or, for that matter, most other  Prime Ministers.

In protecting Lees-Galloway,  both the  PM and Deputy  PM  stoked the fires of speculation and political tension, culminating in the stoush in Parliament  where the Speaker expelled first the  Leader of  the Opposition, Simon  Bridges,  and then the Shadow  Leader of the  House,  Gerry Brownlee.

Continue reading “Putting the Sroubek puzzle together is challenging – perhaps a key piece is missing”