We await official buzz from the Beehive on how NZ will respond after Trump’s killer drone stings the Iranians

Because ministers are still on holiday while tensions mount in the Middle East and Donald Trump threatens to emulate the Teleban by destroying Iranian cultural centres, the question of whether New Zealand will hasten the withdrawal of around 45 troops still in Iraq has yet to be unambiguously answered. 

More critically, how the Ardern government will balance foreign policy interests that have become conflicted is open to conjecture, too. 

Perhaps our leaders think everything will be sorted out by the time they get back to their desks in Wellington.

The Beehive website tells us nothing about the government’s position on the crisis, which suggests our leaders have not met to discuss this country’s policy response.

The most recent official post – on January 5 – records Defence Minister Ron Mark announcing three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, two NZ Army Combat Engineer Sections and “a command element” are being sent to support the Australian Defence Force efforts in tackling the Australian fires. Continue reading “We await official buzz from the Beehive on how NZ will respond after Trump’s killer drone stings the Iranians”

Funding fuss must be weighed against Peters’ ministerial performance – and on the world stage he has been acclaimed

Can Winston Peters,  as   he has  done  so  often  before,  confound his  critics?   He  has  been  under intense  pressure  over  revelations  in  Matt Shand’s  Stuff   reports   on  donations channelled   through  the  NZ First  Foundation  Trust.

But Peters insists  the Electoral Commission, after investigating questions about loans made to the NZ First Party by the foundation will find that  everything is  in order.

And  even  if the  commission   were to  find   there has been a  breach,  could  it   derail   NZ  First?   Or its   leader?

After all,  Peters  has been  here   before—and  survived.

Here  at  Point of  Order  we   do  not pretend to  be   experts  on  the  ethics   of  political  donations to  NZ  First  any more   than of those   to  other  political  parties.    Or,  for  that matter, charging   $1500  to  those   who  want to  attend  a  dinner in the  presence  of  the   PM?

What  counts  for  the majority   of  voters    when they cast  their ballots  is what, if  anything,  politicians   have accomplished.  Or  what they promise.

Dispassionate  observers looking  at  how  Peters  has  performed   both  as  deputy  PM  and   Minister of  Foreign Affairs  would  mark   him well. Continue reading “Funding fuss must be weighed against Peters’ ministerial performance – and on the world stage he has been acclaimed”

We encounter stubborn silence rather than spin in our pursuit of a Parliamentary fracas

We wonder if we were supposed top be gobsmacked, consternated  or otherwise thunderstruck by the headline we encountered at the top of page 16 in our Dominion-Post today.

“Fracas in Parliament,” it bellowed in a truncated version of the headline that can be found on the same report at Stuff.

The opening sentence of the report to which we were lured told us:

“A political fracas has broken out at Parliament on the third day of a NZ First donations saga.

“NZ First MPs were in denial-mode, National revealed a $30 million lawsuit threat, and another MP called out for someone to ring the police.”

Hmm.  Some MPs were denying something (as they persistently do), a lawsuit threat has been made and someone has called for the cops to be phoned.  Good luck with the phone call.,

The dictionary we consulted gives this definition – a fracas is a rough, noisy quarrel or fight. Continue reading “We encounter stubborn silence rather than spin in our pursuit of a Parliamentary fracas”

A frustrated champion of transformation will retire – now let’s wait for Peters to declare his intentions

The  Labour-led  coalition  may have to generate  a  second  wave  of  Jacindamania  if  it is to  win another term in the Beehive.

Re-election  is   not  an   impossible  dream, despite  the failure of   Labour to deliver   what  many of  those  who  voted  for it  in 2017  expected.

Retiring   Green  MP   Gareth  Hughes  summed it up when he  told reporters  the government  had not  delivered  “transformation”.

The pace of change, he reckons,  has not matched what he sees as the problems facing the country.

“Across my 10 years here, things have actually got worse. Emissions have increased, homelessness is growing.  I don’t think the government has been transformational.  There’s been pockets of transformation, but I don’t think historians are going  to look back and  say ‘This was a turning point on the scale of the 1930s or 1980s’.  And I think that’s desperately needed. It’s a disappointment that we aren’t seeing the change I think we need”. Continue reading “A frustrated champion of transformation will retire – now let’s wait for Peters to declare his intentions”

From litigation to negotiation – Peters is back in pursuit of an FTA with the USA

After a trying week in court Foreign Minister Winston Peters will find some relief next week when he heads to Washington DC to take part in a security conference and continue his campaign for a free trade agreement with the US. The conference will focus on security issues in the Middle East and the containment of ISIS.

NZ has made considerable progress along the path to an FTA since Peters’ earlier visits and he will be aiming to consolidate the efforts by officials.  MFAT’s senior trade negotiator Vangelis Vitalis has been in the US capital this week.

Peters first raised the FTA almost a year ago and encouraging signs have continued to be shown by the US although its trade negotiators have been submerged in a high-level agenda ranging from China (in which a staged settlement will phase down tariffs, particularly those doing the most damage, for example on Chinese electronics imports) to the European Union and possibly the UK post-Brexit. Continue reading “From litigation to negotiation – Peters is back in pursuit of an FTA with the USA”

Peters puts the spotlight on Pacific and partnership in policy address to international affairs institute

Since taking office in this Govt, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has applied heft to NZ’s role in the Pacific. Now, 18 months on, he reflects on what has been achieved.

Speaking to the NZ Institute of International Affairs, he said NZ is moving away from the donor-recipient dynamics of the past, and building more mature relationships with Pacific Island countries.

The message that NZ is a partner, and not just a donor, has resonated in the region and enabled frank conversations about shared policy priorities and challenges.

The government has lifted its leadership diplomacy effort, with an increase in high-level engagement, both in terms of travel into the region, and hosting Pacific leaders and ministers here.

Agencies are focused on greater coherence on Pacific issues across all parts of the Government, recognising the close connection between foreign and domestic policy in our Pacific engagement. Continue reading “Peters puts the spotlight on Pacific and partnership in policy address to international affairs institute”

An important conference for NZ First as it braces for the prospect of a painful year ahead

Expect  the  old  campaigner Winston  Peters to be at  his belligerent  best as he   gears  up for another election.  He’s kept his party alive for 27 years  and  he  shows  no sign  of quitting.

The  omens  may be  bleak—polls  this week  showed  his party below  the  5% threshold– but  Peters  insists   NZ  First’s  own polling puts the party  “comfortably  in the  zone”  to do well.  He told   Radio NZ the  party   is getting  “enormous  support” in the provinces  and  he’ll use  the   conference  to  outline a winning  strategy.

As  for  those  political commentators  who say NZ  First  won’t make it back  into Parliament,  they are   “moronic”.

Yet  even  when  Peters  fires   up,  as  he  did  in  that interview,  the  odds   are stacking up against  NZ  First.    He  can brush off the polls, dismiss  leaks of  sensitive party documents  pointing to questionable  internal administrative issues,  and  assert   his  party  is  key to  the  coalition’s   success: yet  NZ First inevitably  will cop  some of the blame generated by adverse headlines  as in  the  NZ  Herald  on  Thursday – “Dire Shortfall in  State Housing”. Continue reading “An important conference for NZ First as it braces for the prospect of a painful year ahead”