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”
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”
The secret – or so-called secret – is out. New Zealand has signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, then proclaimed the fact very publicly on the Beehive’s web-wide bulletin board.
The partnership encompasses Japan, China, South Korea, the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia and New Zealand and creates “a free trade zone” which covers nearly a third of the world’s trade and economic output.
The word “free” is much more open to challenge than the claim about secrecy.
The piles of documents which set out the rules and regulations make nonsense of any notion this is a free trade zone for the signatories. It’s an easier trade zone for them, perhaps, but free? No.
The announcement of the public signing was one of just a few Beehive released in the past few days. The others tell us – Continue reading “The 15-nation RCEP – if that’s a secret agreement, someone should tell MFAT and the PM”
Foreign Minister Winston Peters has been challenged over his robust approach to China.
First, he disclosed this week that Beijing’s foreign minister had tried to talk him out of NZ’s coronavirus lockdown.
Second, China’s diplomats in Wellington have become much more active. The ambassador has already been called into MFAT over some of her remarks.
Now the NZ ambassador in Beijing has been called into the foreign ministry to “explain” why NZ supports admission of Taiwan as an observer to the World Health Assembly, run by the World Health Organisation.
NZ joins other countries in making its case for Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly, because of Taiwan’s record of handling the Covid-19 pandemic. Neither Wellington nor other capitals challenge China’s “one China” policy.
Continue reading “Peters goes hard on China – now let’s see if NZ falls prey to Beijing’s intimidating pack of “wolf warriors””
High-flying former New Zealand diplomat Kirsty Graham has been appointed CEO Global Public Affairs for major US public relations company, Edelmans. She takes up her duties at the end of February.
Dunedin-born Graham’s last MFAT post was deputy head of mission at the NZ Mission to the United Nations in New York. She also served in Washington DC and on the staff of former foreign minister Sir Don McKinnon.
From New York she was recruited by the US drug manufacturer Pfizer as senior vice president, corporate affairs for its Biopharmaceuticals Group and senior vice president Global Policy and International Affairs. She has also been vice president and Corporate Affairs lead for the company’s Essential Health group.
During her 10 years at Pfizer, Graham also held the title of vice president, Policy, External Affairs and Communications for the Primary Care Business unit as well as senior director, International Public Affairs for Asia-Pacific and Canada.
Graham will become a member of Edelmans’ Operating Committee, whose businesses operate in more than 125 countries and have a portfolio of more than 600 products generating about three-quarters of the company’s revenues.
Shanes Jones liberal distributions of public money from the Provincial Growth Fund raise issues far beyond he prudence of government trying to pick winners and the potential for favouring political supporters.
There are trade policy implications, too.
Stuff writer Hamish Rutherford drew attention to this last December, when he examined Jones’ justification for why the Government had decided to lend almost $10 million to debt-laden Westland Milk Products.
Rutherford described the PGF as a $1 billion-a-year pot which NZ First won during coalition negotiations, to fill what he believes is a void. Continue reading “Jones seems unstoppable (until he has emptied the PGF trough) – but what are the trade policy effects?”
Back in June, a post in Point of Order quoted a range of comments on a reshuffle of five CEOs across the public service by State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes, who said he wanted to maintain momentum in key roles and portfolios.
Among the comments, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue observed that the appointments were all male and criticised the process as unfair to top women in the public service.
So there will be keen interest, not least from that quarter, in the competition for the top job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Its current CEO, Dr Brook Barrington, was one of the five involved in the June reshuffle and is designated to take over from Andrew Kibblewhite as CEO of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from February 1. Continue reading “Cheering news for Jackie Blue – two women are among the prospects to head MFAT”