Sep 27, 2008

Don't Scoff At Goff

Like Fran O'Sullivan we have been somewhat amused at some of the negativism that has been reprinted in the New Zealand media about the great achievement by Phil Goff earlier in the week in getting the US to formally announce that it was negotiating to join the Trans Pacific Economic Triumph. A whole lot of people who don't know that much about the subject tried to pour cold water on the announcement. But already it is proving successful. Australia, Peru and Vietnam are lining up for membership also. P4 is about to become P8, and trade liberalisation is back at the heart of the APEC agenda.

Also like Fran O'Sullivan we think that this triumph coming on the back of the China FTA, the ASEAN FTA and the leadership he has shown on the Fonterra/San Lu problems Goff has enhanced the case for his becoming the new leader of the Labour Party. Fran is less cutting that we would be, but we would argue that events over the same period that Goff has been delivering good outcome after good outcome Helen Clark and Michael Cullen have been inflicting disaster after disaster. We believe they both must go as soon as possible after the election. And shame on other Labour leadership contenders such a David Cunliffe for being prepared to toe the Clark/Cullen line so closely.

In today's NZ Herald Fran says the following:

While Helen Clark and Michael Cullen are dealing with fallout from the Peters donations affair, it is Goff who is chalking up the victories on their behalf on the foreign affairs front.
Phil Goff's successful forays on the international trade front position him as a potential Labour leader when Helen Clark ultimately steps down.

On San Lu

But once Goff was briefed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on September 2, he ordered officials to get more intelligence together so the Prime Minister and relevant Cabinet colleagues could decide the next steps.

On Peters

Goff's nose was out of joint when Clark gave his prized foreign affairs portfolio to Peters to buy New Zealand First's support after the 2005 election.
His frustration famously erupted at the subsequent Apec meeting in Busan where he told me that having Peters in Cabinet would be like having your mother-in law living in your house rather than next door - "it's much easier sometimes when she's next door as you've each got your own space" - adding he would be keeping a "close eye" on his former portfolio.

Goff pulled his head in after Peters went ballistic over the sniping and concentrated (at least publicly) on his own pivotal trade portfolio while Peters' antagonistic relationships with journalists got in the way of him publicly chalking up policy successes.
This must have rankled with Goff who has all along recognised the value of professional media relations to amplifying New Zealand's successes in the foreign relations arena. On this score, Peters was a disaster.