China rebuked New Zealand’s Defence Minister at the opening of a high-profile security forum in Beijing on Tuesday, criticizing his stance on tension in the disputed South China Sea, saying countries “not involved” should not interfere.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
An international tribunal in Hague ruled in July that China had no historic title over the waters and had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights there. That decision infuriated Beijing, which dismissed the court’s authority. Read more »
Big Gerry Brownlee seems quite flippant about a serious budget blowout of more than $100m.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has defended a $100 million blowout in the cost to upgrade the navy’s two frigates.
The Defence Force is in the process of upgrading the combat management systems, radars and sensors, and replacing the self-defence missile systems, on both the HMNZS Te Kaha and the HMNZS Te Mana.
It was originally budgeted to cost between $354m and $374m, but Labour MP Phil Goff says it’s now expected to cost close to $473m.
Mr Goff also said the upgrade work won’t now be completed until March 2019 – 13 months later than planned.
He sought an explanation from Mr Brownlee when he fronted up to Parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee on Thursday. Read more »
Talk is starting to firm up around the departure of Murray McCully, and word has it it will be around Christmas time.
People are already positioning themselves for selection if that does occur, though I think a by-election is unlikely given Key’s disdain for them after the debacle in Northland by Steve Joyce and Vic Crone’s campaign manager Jo de Joux. It is likely to be a more managed departure, but if McCully does go and no by-election is called then expect a general election inside 6 months of McCully’s leaving.
Meanwhile Matthew Hooton is flying some kites on his replacement, though they match the rumours I’ve heard too.
It was all going to be so easy.
To refresh John Key’s government before the election, a neat side-shuffle was envisaged.
Sir Lockwood Smith would return to New Zealand to take some academic governance role at his beloved Massey or Lincoln universities, Speaker David Carter would get his gong and head to London as high commissioner, and Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee would be elevated to the Speaker’s chair. Mr Key would then be able to promote a next-generation Cantabrian, perhaps Justice Minister Amy Adams, into his inner circle.
It was never clear if the plan was consciously designed in Mr Key’s own mind (or even if he ever agreed with it) or merely evolved out of the chatter of parliament and the punditariat. Nevertheless, it involved a certain elegance.
The problem was that, with the exception of perhaps Sir Lockwood, whose life-long interest has been agricultural science, none of the senior figures required to make it work was interested. Whether anyone ever spoke to him about it, it turned out Mr Carter didn’t want to move to London. And Mr Brownlee made clear that the tradition a new Speaker be reluctantly dragged to the chair would need to be more than ritualistic: he would need to be personally carried from the cabinet room across to the Speaker’s apartments.
Gerry Brownlee has just been appointed perhaps his important job yet — keeping the wise-cracking Prime Minister out of trouble.
John Key was thrown out of Parliament last week after talking over Speaker David Carter, who had stood up.
“I was actually thinking I was being so amusing and so engrossed in my own answer, I didn’t see the Speaker,” Mr Key told Paul Henry this morning. “It wasn’t deliberate.”
Gerry Brownlee travelled to Israel after his visit to Iraq. He’s also tried to keep it very quiet, with it not even being reported in NZ media.
Andrew Little, helped by the Media party, is claiming triumph on his blitzkrieg tour of Iraq…in the shadow of Gerry Brownlee.
Claire Trevett explains why he’s been done like a dinner by those dastardly Nats.
At first blush, the Government’s invitation to Labour leader Andrew Little to visit the troops in Iraq appeared to be a trick.
The question is not so much why Little took up the invitation to go along with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee. Despite having criticised Prime Minister John Key’s own visit to Iraq as a photo op, Little had no qualms about brandishing photos of himself striding manfully around Taji in his flak jacket.
The bigger question is why the invitation was issued in the first place.
A superficial interpretation of the Government’s motivations is that it put Little in an awkward situation. Politically, it was a risky move for Little. Labour vehemently opposed sending the troops to Iraq last year, yet there Little was, meeting those very same troops.
It is not unheard of for Opposition leaders to visit troops on deployment. Last year, Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten visited the troops at Taji.
The difference between him and Little was Shorten was able to stand before the troops and assure them they had Labor’s bipartisan support.
Little’s message to the troops was somewhat more complex. It appeared to consist of telling those troops he thought they were doing a good job while sticking to his line that the job they were doing was futile.
Should Little oppose future deployments, he has handed his rivals an encyclopedia of photos and gushing comments with which to lambast him.
The prospect of watching Little squirm in front of those whose deployment he had opposed may well have been the cherry on the top for National.
You’ve got to love the hypocrisy and sanctimony of Andrew Little.
Invited on a ministerial tour to our troops in Iraq he somehow manages to get the Media party to call it his secret trip. Never mind that it was Gerry Brownlee’s trip or that Mark Mitchell went as well…no, for the Media party it was Andrew Little’s secret trip to Iraq.
Labour leader Andrew Little has made a top secret visit to Iraq to visit New Zealand troops based at Camp Taji and is now questioning whether the two-year term will be extended.
Mr Little has just left Iraq after Camp Taji with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating.
Labour opposed the 2015 deployment of troops to help train Iraqi soldiers fight against Islamic State (Isis), but Mr Little said he accepted the invitation from Mr Brownlee because he believed it was important to see first hand the work of the troops and the conditions in which they lived.
Mr Little praised the “skill and professionalism” of the troops he met. Read more »
Goff’s pitch to the people of Auckland is that he can work with the National Government.
Which makes you wonder why he is calling National Ministers liars.
But Phil Goff, the former Labour defence minister who was in charge of procuring the boats in the first place said Brownlee was being “dishonest”.
Goff said the defence select committee were told the vessels weren’t at sea because they didn’t have the skill to staff them.
The vessels were commissioned to do fisheries protection, conservation support, border security and search and rescue.
Goff said the boats shouldn’t be sold: “These were a quantum leap forward in terms of their capabilities.”
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has been given a new title, effective immediately.
He’s become Minister Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, a change Prime Minister John Key says makes the Government’s responsibilities clear.
“The passing of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act and the disestablishment of CERA marks a new phase,” Mr Key said today. Read more »
The NZ Herald has put up an article today about the guy who threw muck at Gerry Brownlee…as you can see from the headline they are claiming to have “Revealed” the child pornography charges he has faced before.
The man convicted of throwing muck over Minister Gerry Brownlee at a memorial service for victims of the Christchurch earthquake can today be revealed as a convicted sex offender.
John Andrew Howland, whose 14-year-old son, Jayden Andrews-Howland, was killed by falling masonry in the February 22, 2011 earthquake, tipped an ice cream container filled with “pretty mucky stuff” over Mr Brownlee’s head at the five-year anniversary service last month.
Howland, 41, pleaded guilty to assault at Christchurch District Court and today was sentenced to 80 hours of community work.
Now it can be reported that Howland was sentenced to eight months’ home detention in 2013 after being caught with thousands of images of child pornography on his computer.
Depression triggered by his teenage son’s death – just a day before his 15th birthday – was behind his descent into the world of child pornography, Greymouth District Court heard.