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”
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 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”
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”
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”
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”
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”