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Diplomacy, you’re doing it old school

Written By: - Date published: 11:53 am, April 13th, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: Spying, trade - Tags:

Have you noticed that we have very few visits from leaders of major countries to NZ these days? I was thinking about that watching Key give himself ’10 out of 10′ for his trip to China and reading Audrey Young’s piece, which basically asks ‘what was all that in aid of?’ Key’s junkets always seem to be ‘goodwill’ visits with no real goals or diplomatic outcomes.

There’s a charmingly naive belief in some of the reportage that just getting ‘face-time’ with leaders of other countries somehow matters. Maybe it would have 50 years ago. Now, diplomacy is highly professionalised – it progresses by the signing of documents when both countries’ experts perceive it is in their best interests to sign them – not because a leader once had dinner with another one and shared a joke. Successful countries simply don’t operate their trade policies based on personal whims like that – it’s realism, not relationshipism.

Key going along to open a pizzeria that’s using New Zealand ice cream doesn’t advance our trade relationship with China one iota. Nor does Joyce reading from a Chinese translation of Hairy Maclary. The fact that he had to pad out his programme with that kind of fluff reveals the lack of substance.

You don’t see leaders of other countries doing the diplomatic equivalent of popping over for a cup of tea. They go places to sort out issues and seal deals. And they don’t come to New Zealand anymore, because we’ve got nothing substantive to do with them.

New Zealand’s diplomacy, especially under Key is outmoded. And the results are plain. Despite being the ‘dealmaker’ Prime Minister who is committed to free trade, Key has failed to negotiate a single trade deal in his four and a half years. And he managed to do something, its unclear what, to kill the FTA with the Gulf Cooperation Council at the last minute.

What about the business to business links that happen on the periphery of these meetings, you might ask. Frankly, they happen just as well without Key bouncing around in the centre.

Key’s empty record on international relations, a huge number of visits that have had no outcome (or, seemingly, purpose) other than filling his scrapbook, speaks for itself. These junkets are a waste of time and public money.

Which brings me to a final point. A lot of people bought Key’s line that he couldn’t have been behind the leak of the Kitteridge report while he was overseas because the last thing he wanted was distraction from coverage of his wonderful trip. But let’s play out the counterfactual: Key goes to China for a week with nothing really to do. He’s got half a dozen journos with him who, being self-respecting people, aren’t best pleased with him calling them knuckleheads. The coverage of the trip is thin and critical of Key’s empty programme. His PR ops are mocked.

So much better, then, to get the Kitteridge report out then – it means the scandal does its dash while Key isn’t in Parliament and is largely out of answering range. The press gallery is split between the people who can ask him the questions because they’re with him, and the ones who are digging into the issue and have the right questions to ask here in New Zealand, weakening the coverage. And Key gets to frump off from press standups in China complaining that they’re ignoring all the wonderful things he’s achieving because they’re distracted by scandal-mongering.

If you think that the report just happened to be leaked while Key was overseas, you probably also think it’s a coincidence that Key happened to scoot out of the country just before the GCSB Ministerial Warrant was signed. If you believe that, my message to you is the same as my message to New Zealand’s diplomats and leaders abroad – get real.

34 comments on “Diplomacy, you’re doing it old school”

  1. Macro 1

    Frankly I don’t care if NZ never ever signs another “free trade” agreement again! They are nothing more than a mechanism for the export of jobs from this country. Globalisation is more about the globalisation of poverty and the further enrichment of the super wealthy. The sooner we dismantle this web of “deals” between those who have at the expense of everyone else – the better for the rest of the world population -and for the environment.

    • Herodotus 1.1

      Link your comment with transfer pricing and structures that allow for profits to escape having local taxes apply. Just another drain on our balance of payments and indirectly selling our sovereignty and self determination. I wonder who will be the 1st Sovereign country to be sold just like an EPL football team?
      http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/apples-nz-unit-paid-tax-amounting-04-percent-its-half-billion-sales-2012-bd-137629

    • Tim 1.2

      And the laughable part is that Wonder Boy thinks his little jaunts (alongside buzzniss leaders and others) are somehow ‘progressing things’ (going forward). It’s that kind of arrogance that makes him believe he’s smarter than those recently visited and on his agenda. Half (ekshly MOST) of Sth America’s got his number….. just India, Russia, Sth Efrika left to conquer eh John?
      As someone else has pointed out ….. after 4 years bordering on 5 – where’s the FTA deal John?
      John Key has NO cultural affinity with ANYTHING of value that isn’t based on a dollar. Bloody shame for him though that he hasn’t taken into account that those he seeks to do buzzzniss with usually see things differently. And, as another post on here points out – TRUST is an important cultural value.
      There is none, so when and IF anything comes to pass, rest assured it won’t be based on a benefit to what JK seeks to ‘represent’ – Nu Zull.
      Keep it coming tho’ John. I’m watching in entisspayshun

      • Tim 1.2.1

        Well, now I think further: pus, pimple, bum, ugly springs to mind!
        Nu Zull eh?! John Key Eh?1
        Staying the course!

    • Murray Olsen 1.3

      I agree, Macro. If paying for Key’s photo ops means we are not subject to Free Trade Deals, I think they come cheap.

    • Gosman 1.4

      One of the biggest contributors to reduction in global poverty though. I suspect you don’t care about reducing global poverty. At least people like Helen Clark are. Hence why she loves free trade deals.

  2. Hooray! 2

    Let’s not forget another reason for Key’s trip. It’s a free overseas holiday. I bet he has a much greater flexibility in his diary when he’s overseas. Plus he probably gets to fuck his secretary a bit more than usual.

  3. tc 3

    It’s not about diplomacy or advancing NZ in any way.

    It’s to keep him away from the clusterf*#k he’s fronting back here and reduce the opportunities for more ‘knucklehead’ moments as he’s proven he useless when questioned to any reasonable level reverts to bullying a la the cup of tea in 2011.

    He gets to be PM and do as many junkets as he can while the real workhorses of the sell off go about making it happen, like Joyce, findlayson, Blinglish and the boot crew like crusher, basher and royall get to punish the great unwashed into the bargain.

    He didn’t leave wall street to do anything other than as told by the hollowmen which amounts to keeping him and his media sycophants filing pretty photo opp’s of what a big man JK is.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    The ‘optics’ of his meetings are always run to over dramatise Keys actual schedule.

    The China visit is a perfect example.

    Key was one of a number a ( more important) world leaders at some sort of summit at Hainan Island

    I think the meeting with the Chinese president was merely a grip and grin.

    But Key adds in a few extra cities and meets other functionaries.

    Back here it appears he is on a major state visit.

    Washington is usually the same: he meets the Vice President , the Secretary of State and so on, but gets only a 5 min ‘bilateral’ with Obama.

    The media back here play it like hes the centre of attention in Washington for a few days

  5. KJT 5

    Why bother visiting New Zealand. We have already given away everything!

  6. infused 6

    Yeah, probably because of this

  7. karol 7

    I wouldn’t underestimate Key. Throughout his PM-ship things have been going on that we are now only becoming aware of – eg his integration of the GCSB, and loads of small changes adding up to major shifts.

    I think when he’s doing his photo ops, there’s likely to be other things happening behind the scenes.

    This time, it may be an excuse to be out of the country when Kitteridge’s report was released. But, also, Key’s government is trying to balance the US-dominated TPPA, with the ASEAN-centred RCEP – maybe his team have sen a need to keep on China’s good side.

    And maybe Key has some commerce-centred deals going on behind the scnes.

    • dumrse 7.1

      Conspiracy, the theory of last resort.

      • karol 7.1.1

        So, does that mean you’ve run out of ideas that you’ve got to resort to raising the idea of conspiracy?

        My comment is about an evasive and two-faced way of going about things.

        • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1

          Please, can we just all be sensible like the three blind, deaf, dumb monkeys?

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.1.1.2

          “…run out of other people’s lines to repeat mindlessly…”
          FIFY

          Dumbarse hasn’t authored a single original thought, so there is no evidence that they had “ideas” to run out of.

    • Wayne 7.2

      I suspect that Koral is correct.

      The Boao Forum at Hianan would no doubt have been focused on RCEP. China needs RCEP to catch up to TPP (in terms of timing). TPP is supposed to be completed this year. China which is not part of TPP would want RCEP to show it can carry the same authority in the Asia Pacific as the US. The fact that the ASEAN nations and Australia and New Zealand were the main nations at Boao is possibly the indicator. And unlike TPP negotiations, China is able to do this quietly.

  8. BrucetheMoose 8

    In a funny sort of way, I genuinely relish the fact that Key insists on continually whipping overseas on his little escapades. Hopefully on one of them, he will forget to come back. Wouldn’t that be nice.

  9. Populuxe1 9

    I don’t think world leaders have ever really made a big habit of coming here outside of ASEAN conferences, although Xi Jinping in 2010 was a big deal, but unless Karol is some specialist in international foreign relations, I think she’s talking nonsense. I know from my own experiences in the area of international cultural exchanges nothing ever gets done unless you travel for face time because you simply don’t exist – particularly if you are on the other side of the planet.

  10. Rogue Trooper 10

    an intersecting Vale of analysis,
    and Con-jecture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjecture popping here and there.

  11. johnm 11

    The Yankey john. You’ll just get the Yank line on society, economics and foreign policy, the hapless locals don’t count at all! :-( So Why bother visiting? It’s a foregone conclusion you’ll get standard Yanker lines. refer Washington! :-)

  12. Skinny 12

    Frankly I think Key done more harm than good on this visit. One would think after 5 years as PM he would have learnt to be diplomatic, referring to his open backing of supporting South Korea in the event of any future conflict. The Chinese Leadership will know Labour have been their real foe but regardless John Key should have known better than to insult the Chinese in their own Country.  

  13. Rogue Trooper 13

    after checking out the mark-downs at HNW yesterday (across that side of the tracks on a mission) I had a conversation with a lady-pensioner who hailed from Dartmoor; it seemed that her husband had been a principal, and very conversant with politics around the dining-table; anyway, it was a lovely day, lovely day, so we chatted about the weather and politics and the young people of today as you do; she felt Thatcher had been an important figure, yet, SHE COULD NOT STAND JOHN KEY. :) lovely lady, we valued her experienced perspective.

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    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    3 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    3 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    4 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    4 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    4 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    4 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    4 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    1 week ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • US state joins NZ with GE food labelling
    New Zealand has a similar law making the labelling of many GE foods compulsory, but the Government seems to let it slide.  Because the government has not monitored or enforced our GE food labelling laws since 2003, it seems the… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago

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