Buzz from the Beehive – was it Winston Peters who last mentioned “democracy” in an Anzac Day speech?

It is a measure of the Government’s regard for the democracy that is being “tweaked” on her watch that Jacinda Ardern didn’t drop that word into her Speech to Mt Albert Anzac Day Service.

More than a century after the first Anzac Day commemorations were held in 1916 “in sober remembrance of those who had been involved in the Gallipoli campaign”, she said,.

“… this annual recognition of the service and sacrifice of New Zealanders in war remains equally significant, as we take pause to recognise all who have returned from service, and all who have been lost to us.”

And:

“Anzac Day is a time to give thanks to today’s armed forces who strive to uphold the values we hold dear as they continue to serve in areas of conflict overseas.”

Point of Order delved back to 2019 to find mention of democracy in a ministerial speech on Anzac Day.  On that occasion the speech was delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters at the Danish Institute of International Studies in Copenhagen.

Peters, leader of New Zealand First, is no longer in office to impede Labour’s constitutional reconstruction as its coalition partner.  But it seems he is still a champion of democracy because he recently declared:

“The insidious creep of the racist, separatist, secretive co-governance agenda must be stopped now…”  

In Copenhagen, he explained that Anzac Day was the day on which Kiwis and Australians commemorate the sacrifices made by our service men and women over the last century and more in the pursuit of freedom. He said.

“A great number of New Zealanders lost their lives during two world wars fighting to defend Europe from tyranny and from fascisim.  It is therefore a privilege to speak today in Denmark, a thriving, peaceful and innovative democracy with which our country – New Zealand – shares so much.”

 Peters mentioned “the values that drive us”, including democracy.

“New Zealand is one of only nine countries with an uninterrupted sequence of democratic elections since 1854”.

But now – as Deputy PM Grant Robertson acknowledged this morning – our government is “adapting” core democratic principles to ensure better outcomes for Māori.

Radio NZ’s account of this interview includes a pointer to an item headed –

“We’re interested in things that work” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson (7 min 53 sec)

Work at what?

If efficiency of government spending is the objective, for example, we could learn a lot from the United Arab Emirates, which ranks number one on a World Economic Forum, Executive Opinion Survey for efficiency in fiscal management.

Qatar (fourth), Rwanda (fifth) and Saudi Arabia (seventh) are worth emulating, too, because they all come in ahead of New Zealand (eighth).

None of those countries has much time for “democracy” of the sort Peters mentioned in his speech,  although maybe Robertson’s recognition of the benefits of other forms of government  explains why he is arguing the case for tweaking…

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