Apr 10, 2008

More Reasons For Winston To Go

We reference a fascinating blog by the Dom Post's Tracy Watkins about Winston's role as Foreign Minister.

The following extract really caught our eye:

you could accept the government’s line and assume no one would ever ask your foreign minister silly questions about something that, back home, your ministers have been trumpeting as the biggest foreign policy coup since sliced bread.

If you were Australian, for instance, you wouldn’t bother asking New Zealand’s foreign minister about it if he visited Australia, even though Australia is itself pursuing a free trade deal with China.

And the thing is, they probably won’t. Why do we know that? Because, as we were all reminded yesterday, whenever Peters goes overseas, foreign affairs officials kindly write up lengthy briefing notes for everyone he’s going to meet, explaining the oddity of his position and why he can’t always be assumed to be representing the New Zealand government’s position on foreign policy issues. We have apparently got other ministers who do that now.

Which means what exactly? That the foreign affairs portfolio really is nothing more than a bauble?

The section in bold frankly shocked us. New Zealand briefs foreign governments in advance that Winston can't always be assumed to be representing the New Zealand government's position on foreign policy issues??????

We know quite a bit about the way MFAT operates and what is going on but we this came as news. Upsetting news. What do other Government's think about New Zealand now? We must be a joke. Did Trans Tasman know this when they wrote that snippet about Winston being the most successful foreign minister since Talboys??? How many other foreign ministers have had to tell foreign governments that they "can’t always be assumed to be representing the New Zealand government’s position on foreign policy issues"?

Now foreign governments are not dumb. they have intelligence services that prepare biographic notes on prominent foreign politicians. The Australian and CIA notes on Winston must be humdingers! They will undoubtedly give an honest appraisal of the man including about his extra-curricula habits. Those he meets will no doubt be expecting someone not fully in control of his brief, but now we know that they will also be meeting with a Minister who actually might not be speaking government policy? Why meet with him? Is it just a courtesy? So Winston can keep having travel jollies? Keep New Zealand happy? Does that mean that we don't actually need a Foreign Minister? And what type of oversight is he giving his Ministry? When he gives an instruction what do his officials do? Do they act on it? How do they know that it is Government policy?

This is unacceptable. can we have a real Foreign Minister please???