Foreign Affairs

Hooton on McCully’s replacement

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.

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Muzza comes good

Murray McCully might not have more than 50 members in his electorate but he is showing the way with budget savings in his department:

Most of the Ministry and Foreign Affairs 600 staff will have to reapply for their jobs under a radical restructuring proposal that could see up to 300 jobs go and lucrative allowances for staff on overseas postings whittled back to boost pay packets back home.

Staff will be told on Thursday about proposals to cull up to 50 diplomatic positions by closing embassies in cities including Stockholm and Warsaw, and downsizing others.

As many as 140 overseas-based administration jobs and around 100 corporate positions – some based in Wellington and the rest on secondment overseas – are also in line to be axed and some of those functions contracted out.

Under the most radical proposal, up to 600 positions engaged in work outside MFAT’s overseas development aid arm – most of the ministry’s core staff – will be advertised and staff told to reapply.

Sources say the proposals are an attempt to shake up a ministry which awards promotions based on pecking order and seniority.

A record of lies

The record for?Philip Bruce Goff lying on foreign affairs issues is not good:

Kiwiblog: Goff exposed

First the SAS quote:

Goff told the General that he could expect a positive outcome on redeploying the PRT past Sept 2006 and was reasonably assured the SAS (Special Forces) would deploy again after regeneration.

And the Iraq quote:

Goff noted Senator McCain?s comment that New Zealand should think about replicating its success in Bamiyan by heading a PRT in Iraq.

The Minister said he told McCain that New Zealand was not averse to doing so once the security situation had stabilized.

If I was a Young Labour member who has stuck up posters about how Don Brash would send troops to Iraq, I?d be looking for a new party, or at least a new leader, about now.

and Fran O’Sullivan: WikiLeaks a quid pro quo for Phil Goff

He had no compunction using notes of a private meeting between former National leader Don Brash and a visiting United States delegation to claim New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy “would be gone by lunchtime” under a National government.

The WikiLeaks documents have something to say on this score too.

Former United States ambassador Bill McCormick wrote in November 2006 that Goff had “misquoted” an Mfat staffer’s notes from the meeting to claim that Brash had promised the nuclear ban would be “gone by lunchtime”.

“Brash denied he intended to get rid of the ban without a referendum, but was unable to respond credibly when Labour said that must mean he was planning to scrap the legislation, which many Kiwis view as an iconic part of the country’s identity,” McCormick said.

It’s notable that Goff refused the?Herald’s request under the Official Information Act to release the full notes of the meeting that Brash had with the six visiting Republican senators.

And, Labour was?still telling the lie as recently as May 2011 – five months after the falsehood was revealed.

You can?t trust Labour and you can?t trust Phil Goff for anything other than for them to lie.

Now Phil Goff is lying again, this time about a briefing he said he didn’t get.


Guest Post: Thakur Ranjit Singh

Thakur Ranjit SinghThe frenzied race for democracy in Fiji: What model the motley crowd promises to deliver?

Thakur Ranjit Singh,

As the race of fight for democracy in Fiji intensifies, it has now reached new heights of political expediency where hitherto diametrically opposed political animals are seen drinking from the same pail. In addition, we witnessed the genesis of a new adage that declares that a foe?s opponent or enemy is a political friend.

However, what still remains uncertain is the model of democracy that can be expected from those whose definition of democracy rests in self-interest or their ability to clamber back onto the gravy train from which they were jettisoned by the military take-over.

The media coup by the military fugitive, Ratu Tevita Mara has taken the fight for democracy to a higher level. Caf? Pacific columnist David Robie recently sought some answers: Who are the media minders behind Mara massaging his military message and what is their agenda? Why are things being taken at face value? Where is the evidence backing up Ratu Tevita’s sweeping allegations?

What have also come under scrutiny are not only the credibility of certain media, but also the credibility of Ratu Tevita Ului Mara and the stance taken by the Australian and NZ governments in bending their rules on military sanctions by granting special exemption to this former military henchman who had suddenly seen the light. This author had questioned the credibility and authenticity of the aristocratic Ratu Tevita who has been dangled as a devotee of democracy.

In presenting a ?smoking gun picture? from the Canberra meeting of the pro democracy and anti-Bainimarama brigade, Graham Davis questioned the motive of those behind the Canberra meeting and the ten point plan put forward to take Fiji back to democracy.?He questioned the inclusion and propriety of Simione Kaitani, a known ethno-nationalist and a former Qarase?s minister, as a pro-democracy campaigner.

Just in the week Ratu Tevita was scheduled to arrive in New Zealand, this author was able to produce his February, 2003 ?dragon-slaying? Close Up programme at Fiji TV, showing the same Simione Kaitani admitting to have committed sedition prior to the march that resulted in Speight taking hostage of Chaudhry?s government on 19 May, 2000.

Davis, in his earlier article had shown a photo of ANU academic, Dr Brij Lal with Kaitani. A clip of Fiji TV Close Up was forwarded to Dr Brij Lal who clarified his position through a personal e-mail to this author. Dr Lal unequivocally denies any previous association with either Ratu Tevita Mara or Simione Kaitani, nor is he in any way formally associated with any organisation. His views on Fiji are longstanding and well known. Dr Lal dismisses any attempt to link him up with the perpetrators of the 2000 coup, and calls it ?mischievous.? He stated that:

What I said in the meeting was what I have always said: that coups are bad, that the path of resistance should be peaceful, that there should be a genuine rather than a politically expedient conversion to the values of democracy. When the meeting concluded, and Padma [Mrs Lal] and I were about to head off to Sydney, Kaitani got himself snapped with me; and on the basis of that single photograph, people assumed that I was supporting Mara and Kaitani and crowd. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Davis had reserved most of his criticism for Kaitani who had been named by one of the soldiers during Speight coup as ?one of the indigenous extremists who?d encouraged George Speight to carry out his coup and was with him in the parliamentary complex.?

It is obvious Ratu Tevita Mara was enlisting support of questionable nationalist elements like one time George Speight?s treasonous Minister Kaitani who also later happened to be Fiji PM Qarase?s Assistant Minister of Information. Then he had appeared on Close Up and admitted his criminal activity of sedition. Contrary to being disciplined, reprimanded or charged by the police, Prime Minister Qarase rewarded Kaitani with a full ministerial cabinet position a month after his criminal confession on national TV. While all this was taking place, Fiji media, including Fiji TV and the normally vocal Rupert Murdoch?s Fiji Times remained mute on this gross violation of good governance. However, Fiji media?s dereliction of duties during Qarase regime is another story to be pursued some other time. Those interested in Fiji?s future and its model of democracy are bound to be confused if not worried. ?The question that arises is: what sort of democracy does the international community seek for Fiji? Kaitani, while admitting his crime, is non-repentant about being a nationalist, and still wants Fiji?s leadership to be in indigenous hands, and seeking ?Fiji for Fijians.? This is verified from the Close Up link.

What is also questionable is the credibility of Rajesh Singh who supposedly leads the makeshift break-away pro-democracy group hosting Ratu Tevita Mara in Auckland.

The break-away group was formed because the legitimate and long-standing Coalition for Democracy in Fiji (CDF), led by Nik Naidu is against the military-man?s visit to New Zealand because of his alleged act of torture in Fiji. On the eve of arrival of Ratu Tevita Mara in Auckland, CDF has filed a criminal complaint with the NZ Police against Mara.

Going back to the organiser of Mara?s trip Rajesh Singh, he is a former organiser for Naitasiri rugby and reportedly considers the Qaranivalu of Naitasiri, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata as his mentor and friend. Ratu Inoke was convicted and implicated for his role in the Fiji military mutiny of 2?November 2000. ?Singh is a former Assistant Minister in Qarase government and was sacked for insubordination. He also reportedly used to visit Ratu Inoke in prison. His political stability and loyalty for democracy is highly questionable because he was working for the Bainimarama government at Fiji Sports Council until recently when he failed to get reappointment. Like Ratu Tevita, he also is a turncoat, one of the inside persons, who had suddenly seen the light once things did not work their ways.

Is this the model or brand of democracy, led by such motley crowd that John Key, Murry McCully and Kevin Rudd seek for Fiji? Do they wish to push Fiji back to the dark days of the Taukei movement and ethno-nationalism, where the rule of jungle, chiefly aristocracy and Methodist church?s bigotry masqueraded as democracy, where Indo Fijians were relegated as second and third class stateless citizens?

While the clips of the Close Up programme and background information have been provided to both major TV stations, one cannot expect much from New Zealand media?s questionable, what some may call jaundiced reporting on Fiji. The NZ mainstream media equates democracy to mere elections; irrespective of what takes place after such supposedly democratic elections which Fiji already had many of, since 1987.

Now, armed with this information, when you see on TV or read of Ratu Tevita?s visit to New Zealand through its mainstream media, you need to take it with a pinch of salt because of their agenda-setting on Fiji where the media appears to sing from the same hymn-sheet as McCully?s and NZ government?s foreign policy, in which, like in George Orwell?s ?Animal Farm”. some [military personnel] are more equal than the others.

[E-mail: [email protected]]

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political commentator and a former publisher of Fiji?s Daily Post.]