The new New Zealand Government

October 26, 2017 by John McCormick
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Well the outcome  of the coalition talks wasn’t as I advocated back on September 27 but we have an interesting situation now that the cabinet is known. In particular the four ministers and one under-secretary allocated to New Zealand First…writes John McCormick.

John McCormick

Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, New Zealand First Leader, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister in charge of State owned enterprises and Minister of Racing (horses and greyhounds) and his Deputy Party Leader now Defence and Veterans Minister Ron Mark are both long standing members of the Parliaments Friends of Israel group (PFI).

Winston first entered parliament in 1978 in the Muldoon era. He served as Deputy Prime Minister In a Coalition with National from 1996 to 1998 and latter Foreign Minister in the Helen Clark Labour Government.

Captain Ron Mark of Royal NZ Army Engineers was one of three officers sent to Israel in 1980 by Prime Minister Rob Muldoon to help set up bases for the Sinai MFO Peace force which we became foundation members of in 1982. Operations began on Anzac Day 1982 with us sending Iroquois helicopter crews and some headquarters staff. After Ron left the Army he did a stint with British forces in Oman. So he comes to Government with first hand knowledge of Israel and the wider middle east.

NZ First Parliamentary Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau  while not a member of the PFI  has the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Regional Development. Former Labour Minister Shane Jones returns to Parliament as a NZ First MP as Minister of Forestry, Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development. He will bring great knowledge and experience to the job. Previously as a Labour MP he was a member of Parliaments Friends of Israel group.  Tracey  Martin while not a member of the PFI is known as a keen supporter of Israel. She will have close contacts with Prime Minister Jacinda Adern as Minister of Children along side her other portfolios of Internal Affairs and Seniors. NZ First’s other member of PFI is Darroch Ball from Palmerston North. His background includes military service.

The only 2017 Election Manifesto to include any reference to Israel was that of New Zealand First. It referenced UNSC Res 2334.   I quote     “Oppose the National – Led Governments sponsorship of UNSC  2334.”   The following clause appears in the NZ First Labour coalition Agreement.  I quote    ” Record a cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National – Led   governments sponsorship of  UNSC 2334.”

These two statements reflect Winston’s questions in the House of Representatives on the issue.

I think 2017 is the first time in years if not decades that Israel has featured in a positive way in a Manifesto. Certainly its the first coalition agreement its featured in positively.

Sources indicate to me that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs want to keep UNSC 2334 well and truly in the past and are keen to work to improve relations with Israel. Sources also indicate that the Trade and Innovation agreement held up since December 2016 and the election will most likely be signed In Jerusalem by the first Minister of the new government to visit Israel.

With three of four NZ First Ministers in the PFI group things look good for an improvement in relations with Israel.  Winston as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Helen Clark’s Labour Government improved relations with the USA and had dealings with North Korea.  Winston  is a very big fan of Donald Trump, I think they will get along like a house on fire, with Winston’s knowledge of North Korea adding to the relationship in a timely manner. New Zealand First as a Party name has been around for about 25 years. America First and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are new.

Winston is also a fan of Brexit. While in the UK before the referendum he addressed a gathering of UKIP. Winston will help build up a good post Brexit relationship with Britain particularly in the trade field.

August 8th saw Massey University’s Centre of Defense  and Security Studies present at parliament ‘a Pre Election Forum’ on “International Security, Defense and Trade.” MP’s were the speakers  who addressed an audience which included 12 Ambassadors and 15 other diplomats representing  about 20 nations in total. Chairman of the event Professor Rouben Azizian took 3 questions after the statements. I asked the second question about peace keeping in the middle East reflecting on the fact that National has reduced the number of people from 25 to 14 deployed to the Sinai Peace Force. David Parker then Labour Foreign Affairs spokesman choose not to answer the question as did then Green MP Barry Coates but to attack me and Israel for opposing UNSC 2334. Parker was particular in attacking Bibi Netanyahu  over the ‘going to war against NZ’ comment he is reported as saying.

All is not lost in the Labour party as the coalition agreement shows. I don’t know the Labour MP’s very well but Stuart Nash Minister of Police, Fisheries ,Revenue and Small Business is a well known supporter of Israel. The Green Party is not to be left out. Information published by the Israel Institute of New Zealand before the election shows Under – Secretary for Women Julie Anne Genter is a member of PFI.

I expect to see America taking note of New Zealand First’s Manifesto and the Coalition statement on UNSC 2334. This to result in a visit to the White House and improved relations with America as a result of improvements in our relations with Israel.

2017 has seen Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visit President Trump  for a one on one meeting. Bill English only got a ‘Call in if your going Past’ , and he didn’t go past Washington. Netanyahu visited Australia but not New Zealand. Most world leaders save money and visit the two ANZAC countries on the same trip!!!  Prime Minister Turnbull on an official visit here meeting in Queenstown about 8 months ago tried to get Bill English to change his stance on UNSC 2334. Of course Bill declined.

New Zealand is the only Western European and other English-speaking country that voted for Partition that does not have an Embassy in Israel. It took 50 years to get an Honorary Consul appointed resident in Tel Aviv.  Is it too much to ask that after another 20 years We can’t have an Embassy in Israel. That would make the Americans happy.

John McCormick is the  Chairman of the Hawkes Bay  Province Friends of Israel.

The president of the New Zealand Jewish Council Stephen Goodman told J-Wire: “The New Zealand Jewish Community welcomes the news that Winston Peters will be the new Foreign Minister.  Given his past statements we are sure that he will work for a closer relationship with Israel.”

 

Comments

One Response to “The new New Zealand Government”
  1. Roy Sims says:

    John,
    What an interesting turn of events. Thankyou for the enlightenment.
    Bill English would do well to consider carefully how quickly things have changed since that disastrous co-sponsorship of 2334.
    There is a message there for all who wish to take note. It is found in the Bible. Genesis 12 verse 3.

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