Hung Parliament after Liberal seat loss in Australia

Things just got even tougher for the Liberals in Australia after they lost a by-election in the Wentworth electorate after ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull exited Parliament.

The Liberals had been clinging to a one seat majority, but Australia now has a hung Parliament.

news.com.au – Independent Kerryn Phelps claims victory over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma for Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth

Independent Kerryn Phelps is ahead on the two-candidate preferred vote by 54.39 per cent compared to Liberal candidate Dave Sharma on 45.61 per cent.

Dr Phelps has 17,500 primary votes compared to Mr Sharma’s 20,712 votes.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said about 80 per cent of preferences from other candidates were going to Dr Phelps and so she should win easily. He called the by-election in her favour about 7.15pm, not long after polling booths closed at 6pm.

It’s the first time in its 117-year history that the Liberals have lost the Wentworth seat and commentators are already predicting it will spell chaos within the party, and Malcolm Turnbull will be blamed.

There was a 27 per cent swing away from the Liberal Party, the biggest swing against a government in a by-election in the history of federal parliament.

It means the Morrison Government will lose its one-seat majority and Australia now has a hung parliament. The Liberal Party will have to work with crossbenchers to get its legislation passed.

Talk about a rock star reception

Kerryn Phelps was greeted by a roar of jubilation as she arrived at her victory party at North Bondi Surf Life Savers club, and the noise didn’t die down for five minutes.

Dr Phelps took her time moving to the front of the room, stopping to hug and high five supporters. At several points she even broke out dancing, and an impromptu moshpit promptly formed around her.

“I am humbled by this privilege and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, before descending back into the crowd.

Scott Morrison’s speech slammed

Morrison is the current Liberal leader and Prime Minister.

While the Prime Minister’s speech to Liberal supporters at Dave Sharma’s election party was heartily cheered, it has not gone down well on social media.

Many said it showed a lack of humility and that Mr Morrison had not understood the message from voters.

In contrast, Mr Sharma’s speech was praised for being gracious and respectful.

Mr Morrison’s defiant speech drew frequent heckles from the rowdier attendees.

Beaten Liberal candidate Dave Sharma got a more respectful reception, perhaps because his speech was notably magnanimous — not only towards Dr Phelps, but towards the old member of Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.

Loss will be blamed on Malcolm Turnbull

The disastrous by-election result for the Liberal Party is already being blamed on the former prime minister and Wentworth MP.

Mr Turnbull was noticeably absent from the campaign and his son was openly encouraging people to vote for Kerryn Phelps.

Australian associate editor Chris Kenny said he thought the repercussions of the loss would be extraordinary.

“There’s going to be incredible turmoil within the Liberal Party as the blame game plays out,” he told Sky News.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull’s reputation is going to be absolutely trashed.”

I think that the Liberal Party needs to bear a lot of responsibility for the blame, but politicians are known for often not acknowledging their own failings. They probably don’t see their own failings.

But this is a big failure for the Liberals.

news.com.au – Voters scoff at Liberal Party’s tactical blunder in Wentworth

THE Liberal Party appears to have made a catastrophic tactical blunder in the Wentworth by-election.

Its core argument to voters was obvious to anyone who visited a polling station today. Huge signs warned of the consequences that would follow a victory for independent Kerryn Phelps, saying Labor would ultimately benefit.

“Labor + Phelps, don’t risk it,” the most common poster read.

The implication, hammered into voters heads all week by Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and even retired party legend John Howard, was that Dr Phelps would cause chaos in parliament.

In other words, the biggest reason to vote Liberal was “stability”.

The Australian Liberals are about as stable as a Jami-Lee Ross.

Out with the not very old Aussie PM, in with the new

Our relatively) close neighbours the Aussies have a new Prime Minister that most Kiwis are unlikely to have heard of (Scott Morrison, after two leadership votes in a week. The deposing of Malcolm Turnbull adds to the procession of Australian Prime Ministers who have failed to see out a term in office, earning Canberra the label of “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

Guardian: Australia’s new PM is Scott Morrison as moderate Malcolm Turnbull is forced out

Australia has a new prime minister in Scott Morrison – the socially conservative architect of Australia’s hardline anti-asylum seeker policies – after he mounted a late challenge during a drawn-out struggle for power in the governing Liberal party.

On Friday, incumbent Malcolm Turnbull failed in his attempt to stare down a challenge from hard right MP Peter Dutton, with insurgents in his party gathering enough signatures to call for a “spill” – or leadership contest.

There appears no end in sight to the civil war consuming the ruling Liberal-led coalition government. The country may be headed to an election, with Turnbull saying he will not stay in parliament. His resignation in between general elections would erase the government’s single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Australia has now had five prime ministers in just over five years. Since 2010, four prime ministers have lost office, not at the ballot box, but torn down by their own parties, earning Canberra the unhappy appellation “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

So who is Scott Morrison?

Morrison was treasurer in Turnbull’s administration, and before that, as immigration minister, he was behind Australia’s controversial hardline asylum-seeker policies – including indefinite detention on remote foreign islands.

So that stain on Australia’s reputation may not end before the next election at least.

The son of a policeman and an active member of a Sydney Pentecostal evangelical megachurch, Morrison wears his political ambition and his conservative credentials proudly.

He voted no in Australia’s plebiscite on same-sex marriage, listed “church” as one of his interests in his Who’s Who report, and regards former prime minister John Howard as his political inspiration.

Before his election to parliament in 2007 he was a factional kingpin in the rightwing of the New South Wales Liberal party.

Maybe less right wing than the twice-in-a-week unsuccessful Peter Dutton, but Morrison looks like a move right at a time when they might be heading into an election that may be determined by voters in between the major parties.

Turnbull has sounded some warnings.

In his valedictory speech, Turnbull sounded a warning against the rising tide of populist anti-immigration political rhetoric, promoted from within his own party. “We are the most successful multicultural society in the world, and I have always defended that and advanced that as one of our greatest assets,” he said. “We must never allow the politics of race or division or of setting Australians against each other to become part of our political culture.”

Turnbull also made another thinly veiled swipe at actors “outside the parliament” undermining his leadership – widely interpreted as an attack on the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation newspapers and TV channels, which have consistently campaigned against him.

We are likely to go back to largely ignoring Aussie politics until the next democratic dumping, be it by general election (that mightn’t be far away) or by caucus.

Australian leadership spill looks inevitable, three lining up

A tumultuous day in Australian politics yesterday, with a the second Liberal leadership vote looking likely in a week now. Malcolm Turnbull looks like dead leader stumbling.

News.com.au: Peter Dutton needs just one signature to secure leadership spill

PETER Dutton is only one signature away from securing a leadership spill to oust Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to a Liberal MP.

Mr Dutton’s supporters say he now has more than 40 signatures in his favour in a petition to Mr Turnbull to call a spill that’s been circling Parliament House since last night.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament earlier this evening, Liberal member for McPherson Karen Andrews said she understands only “one more signature is required”.

Ms Andrews, who signed the petition herself, noted that she wasn’t necessarily going to back Mr Dutton.

“But I will not stand by after having Parliament adjourned today to have this matter not concluded tomorrow. I understand that only one more signature is required,” she said.

The former home affairs minister needs 43 signatures for Mr Turnbull to call a party room meeting.

But the Prime Minister has left Parliament House for the day — and it’s understood he hasn’t received a petition.

Mr Turnbull today said he would call a special party room meeting at midday tomorrow if a letter requesting one, signed by a majority of MPs, was presented to him. The embattled leader said he would move a spill motion, and if it was carried, that he wouldn’t stand as a candidate for the top job, and resign both as prime minister and as a member of parliament.

That would leave Turnbull’s replacement leader with a poisoned chalice, probably a hung parliament.

But the controversial Peter Dutton isn’t the only challenger. Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have also indicated they would put themselves forward.

Roy Morgan snap poll:

Liberal Leadership contenders vs. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

  • Julie Bishop (64%) cf. Bill Shorten (36%)
  • Malcolm Turnbull (54%) cf. Bill Shorten (46%)
  • Bill Shorten (50.5%) cf. Scott Morrison (49.5%)
  • Bill Shorten (62%) cf. Peter Dutton (38%)

All ‘can’t say’ and ‘don’t know’ responses have been removed from these results to make them directly comparable.

Analysis by Party – Bishop leads easily amongst L-NP & Ind./Others supporters, Shorten ahead with ALP & Greens supporters

  • L-NP supporters: Bishop 87% cf. Shorten 13%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 74%;
  • ALP supporters: Shorten 59.5% cf. Bishop 40.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 19%;
  • Greens supporters: Shorten 56.5% cf. Bishop 43.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 13%;
  • Ind./Others supporters: Bishop 70.5% cf. Shorten 29.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 41%.

Seems like an easy choice for the Liberals, if they care about the poll results.

I think Dutton would be dire, and Bishop looks a good prospect – but it depends on what sort of support she would get from the Liberal caucus.

And to avoid her being forced into an immediate election it would require a change of mind by Turnbull about quitting.

But perhaps an election would be needed regardless.

Source: Julie Bishop easily preferred to Bill Shorten as PM, virtual dead-heat between Morrison & Shorten while Shorten leads Dutton clearly

More details here.

Australian politics: breaking, breaking, breaking

11:20 am

11:33 am

: Malcolm Turnbull has won back Australia’s leadership after declaring it vacant

11;55 am

: Malcolm Turnbull’s rival Peter Dutton has quit Cabinet after failing to win a challenge for Australia’s leadership

Trade war possible between Australia and US?

Donald Trump’s threat of steel and aluminium tariffs has sparked concern around the world, amongst allies as well as with trade competitors. Australia is showing some concern after earlier being assured of an exemption, with no clarification forthcoming from the US.

It looks like Trump makes things up as he goes, risking making major messes that may be difficult for his officials to clean up.

ABC News: Donald Trump promised Malcolm Turnbull Australia would be exempt from trade tariffs

Donald Trump “emphatically” promised to exempt Australian steel and aluminium from US tariffs during a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year, it can be revealed.

The ABC understands the promise was witnessed by high-ranking officials on both sides of the meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017.

Among those in the US delegation who saw the undertaking first-hand were US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Whitehouse Chief Economics Adviser Gary Cohn.

On the Australian side were Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet David Gruen.

This revelation explains why the Australian Government has been stunned by Mr Trump’s declaration last week that the tariff regime will be enforced, and subsequent statements by Mr Ross that country-specific exemptions are unlikely.

Sources have told the ABC Mr Trump’s promise was emphatic and that he instructed Mr Ross to work out the specifics to “make it happen”.

The Prime Minister and the Australian delegation was “absolutely certain” that a deal had been struck during the Hamburg meeting.

Trusting trump may have been naive.

news.com.au: Turnbull govt considering a ‘trade war’ with the US over steel and aluminium imports

LABOR has pledged support for the Turnbull government if it joins a trade war against United States President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discussed trade with Mr Trump in Washington last week but was given no assurances Australia would be affected badly by his trade policy.

In fact, the ABC reports Donald Trump “emphatically” promised to exempt Australian steel and aluminium from US tariffs during a meeting last year.

Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo at the weekend telephoned US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross but was unable to get any clarification. That was because at that stage even senior members of the Trump administration hadn’t been given the details of the President’s plans.

Mr Trump’s move move could ignite a trade war, with Europe already threatening to put levies on American goods. This could push up interest rates, rock the stock market, and add to global economic uncertainty.

Mr Trump is being told by many sources, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, who telephoned him at the weekend, that the tariffs would hurt America’s allies such as the United Kingdom, South Korea and Canada.

It appears that Trump doesn’t care about what US allies think of his proposed tariffs.

RNZ:  NZ to seek exemption from Trump’s steel tariffs

New Zealand will not be making any threats of retaliation against Donald Trump’s plan to put tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, Trade Minister David Parker says.

However, New Zealand would not be adding its voice to the criticism, with Trade Minister David Parker saying New Zealand will not be making any threats of retaliation.

“We wouldn’t be responding by the threat of trade retaliation ourselves, which I see has been the response of some countries,” he said.

“But we would certainly be advocating on behalf of the New Zealand steel industry that these tariffs if introduced [would] not apply to them

“We are of course a traditional partner of the United States, so we would be submitting to them that they shouldn’t be catching New Zealand steel exports in a regime like that if they introduced it.”

It’s hard to see That trump would care about steel trade with New Zealand.

Ardern disarmament aims versus Turnbull, Putin and Trump

Three days ago Jacinda Ardern promoted disarmament and arms control, and announced that she would reinstate the Cabinet position of Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control (with Winston peters responsible).

Disarmament and arms control are issues we need to take more action on in today’s global climate, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in Wellington this morning.

“We will ensure New Zealand’s voice is heard on disarmament and arms control issues by reinstating the Cabinet position of Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control,” says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“The portfolio responsibility will be given to Rt Hon Winston Peters, and is an acknowledgment of the emphasis this government places on our long held anti-nuclear stance, and the role we must play now and in the future,” says the Prime Minister.

The portfolio will include considering the spread of nuclear, chemical and conventional weapons.

“We must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament, and to the norms and rules which support those endeavours,” says the Prime Minister.

The government is also looking at the early ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which New Zealand signed last year.

Today Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disagreed:

New Zealand is seeking an early ratification of a United Nations nuclear weapons treaty ban, which Australia has refused to sign.

Mr Turnbull maintains the treaty is flawed because it doesn’t cover the world’s nuclear powers.

He said Australia also relies on the deterrent protection from the United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal.

“Everyone would like to aspire to a world which is free of nuclear weapons but we have to focus on the here and now,” Mr Turnbull said.

And the here and now: Putin unveils new Russian nuclear missile, says it renders defenses ‘useless’

Russia has a new array of nuclear-capable weapons including an intercontinental ballistic missile that renders defense systems “useless,” President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday.

The ICBM has a longer range than any other and can reach almost any target in the world, Putin said in his annual address to lawmakers and political elites.

Other new technologies he highlighted included supersonic missiles and drone submarines that he said cannot be stopped.

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development … you have failed to contain Russia,” he said.

He accused the West of “ignoring us. Nobody listened to us. Well listen to us now.”

He boasted that Russia’s new ICBM is “powerful and modern and defense systems will not be able to withstand it,” he said. “Missile defenses will be useless against it.”

“We are not going to take anything away from anybody. We have everything we need,” he said. “Russia’s strong military is a guarantor of peace on our planet.”

However, he warned: “Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies … any kind of attack … will be regarded as a nuclear attack against Russia and in response we will take action instantaneously no matter what the consequences are. Nobody should have any doubt about that.”

America’s nuclear strategy had “raised concerns in Russia,” he said.

Trumps nuclear proclamations have raised concerns in the US and around the world (as will Putin’s):  We need a backup plan for Trump’s nuclear button

For too many Americans, the past year has awoken fears that had faded over the past 30 years. President Donald Trump has threatened to rain “fire and fury” down upon North Korea. He has announced a program to build new and more “usable” nuclear weapons. A recent false alarm in Hawaii of an incoming missile attack sent thousands of families running for cover. Anxieties have risen to the point that a majority of Americans do not trust the president to handle a nuclear crisis.

NBZ:  Putin’s bravado over Russian nukes is emboldened by Trump, analysts say

President Vladimir Putin’s assertion Thursday that Russia is testing a range of new nuclear-powered weaponry reveals a Kremlin that has become increasingly emboldened by the Trump administration and skilled at stoking East-West tensions, analysts say.

“It’s back to the bad old days of Russia trying to claim its glory through having weapons of mass destruction,” said Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff in the Department of Defense and CIA.

Bash said Putin’s latest campaign to bolster Russia’s military might, announced during his annual state of the nation speech, is loaded with Cold War undertones.

“You see an American foreign policy of weakness about Russia,” he added. “Putin is exploiting that weakness, and he tries to assert strength.”

All this macho bravado might need more than a Vogue puff piece if Ardern is going to stop the world going up in a puff of nuclear smoke.

Same sex marriage supported in Australia

Same sex Australian couples may not have to come to New Zealand to get married soon after a referendum that strongly supported same sex marriage looks set to push change there.

Nearly 62 percent of Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex marriage.

But:

 

Ardern’s Australian visit

Jacinda Ardern had a quick visit to Australia in her first international visit as Prime Minister. It seems to have been little more than touching base with Malcolm Turnbull, who she will see soon at the APEC meeting in Vietnam.

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RNZ: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won’t bypass Australia over Manus

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out negotiating directly with Papua New Guinea over taking Manus Island detainees, despite New Zealand’s offer to Australia to take 150 refugees being turned down.

PNG is now having to deal with the 600 men holed up in the detention centre, which was closed by Australia last week. They have no food, water or health services.

Though Ms Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discussed several thorny issues discussed on Sunday, they emerged declaring their relationship to be off to a great start, and joking about her DJing and his attempt at rapping.

Ms Ardern restated New Zealand’s offer to take 150 Manus Island refugees – an offer politely declined, for now.

RNZ:  Ardern doesn’t rule out uni fees retaliation

The Australian government will stop subsidising New Zealanders’ tertiary education from next year – more than tripling the costs for many students.

Australians studying in New Zealand pay the same university fees as locals.

Prior to the election, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand should consider retaliatory measures if the policy was carried out.

Speaking at a joint media conference between the two leaders in Sydney today, Mr Turnbull said he understood the criticism from New Zealand.

“But just as we respect New Zealand’s right to manage its affairs and determine its university arrangements as it sees fit, New Zealand respects our right to do the same on this side of the ditch.”

After the meeting Ms Ardern said Australia would understand if New Zealand made changes in response.

“It’s only fair that if New Zealanders in Australia find that they are incurring higher fees that we would make sure that we respond by at least making sure our system is fair and equitable in the response that Australian citizens, Australians starting in New Zealand would experience as well,” she said.

RNZ: Watch live: Jacinda Ardern in the studio

 

Trump’s obsession with himself

Another leak, this time of transcripts of President Trumps conversations with Australian and Mexican leaders early this year, have shown again how obsessed with himself and his image that Trump is.

He said “I am the world’s greatest person” to Malcolm Turnbull in January.

And recent reports show how he seems to have trouble understanding the difference between leading a company, where the boss can dictate what he likes, compared to the complexities of the US system of government.

Reuters:  Trump, frustrated by Afghan war, suggests firing U.S. commander: officials

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump demanded that his top national security aides provide more information on what one official called “the end-state” in a country where the United States has spent 16 years fighting against the Taliban with no end in sight.

The meeting grew stormy when Trump said Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, a Marine general, should consider firing Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, for not winning the war.

“We aren’t winning,” he told them, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some officials left the meeting “stunned” by the president’s vehement complaints that the military was allowing the United States to lose the war.

Trump seems to have a habit of firing if he isn’t ‘winning’.

CNN: Trump’s Russia statement proves he doesn’t understand separation of powers

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill that the Republican-led Congress had approved overwhelmingly. But he made sure everyone knew he wasn’t happy about it — and in so doing revealed, again, that he has either little understanding of or little care for the separation of powers built into the US government.

What makes Trump’s derision of the division of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches different is both how brazen he is about it and how many times he has expressed sentiments in his first six-plus months in office that suggest he simply doesn’t understand the fact that everyone in the government doesn’t work for him.

And the latest leaks from Washington Post: The Post’s latest bombshell 

Produced by White House staff, the documents provide an unfiltered glimpse of Trump’s approach to the diplomatic aspect of his job, subjecting even a close neighbor and long-standing ally to streams of threats and invective as if aimed at U.S. adversaries.

With Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

The Jan. 28 call with Turnbull became particularly acrimonious. “I have had it,” Trump erupted after the two argued about an agreement on refugees. “I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

Before ending the call, Trump noted that at least one of his conversations that day had gone far more smoothly. “Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said, referring to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. “This is ridiculous.” … “This is going to kill me,” he said to Turnbull. “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.”

With Mexican President Peña Nieto:

“On the wall, you and I both have a political problem,” Trump said. “My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language.”

Trump seemed to acknowledge that his threats to make Mexico pay had left him cornered politically. “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to,” he said. “I have been talking about it for a two-year period.” …

Peña Nieto resisted, saying that Trump’s repeated threats had placed “a very big mark on our back, Mr. President.” He warned that “my position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for the wall.”

Trump objected: “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”

Jennifer Rubin at WaPo: Why the leaked presidential transcripts are so frightening

It is shocking to see presidential conversations released in this way. Some in the executive branch, as Anthony Scaramucci aptly put it, are intent on protecting the country from Trump. This is a good thing, by the way. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has obviously failed to plug the flood leaks.

These transcripts may have been leaked before Kelly took over.

Trump is frighteningly obsessed with himself and his image to such an extent that he cannot fulfill the role of commander in chief. He cannot frame logical arguments based on public policy, and therefore comes across as, well, a fool to foreign leaders.

His desire to maintain his own image suggests he’d be more than willing to make the country’s interests subordinate to his own need for personal affirmations.

Trump’s narcissism leaves him open to flattery and threats (to reveal embarrassing material, for example). That’s the worry in the Russia investigation — namely, that Vladimir Putin has “something” on Trump, which compels Trump to act in ways inimical to U.S. interests.

Trump’s interests are paramount, so a cagey adversary can easily manipulate him.

There is no easy solution.

One cannot be impeached and removed for being an embarrassment to the United States or an egomaniac temperamentally unfit for the job (that was the argument for not electing him). Unless he really goes off the deep end, invoking the 25th Amendment is not a realistic option.

That leaves members of Congress and his administration with a few options.

And Trump keeps blaming everyone else. He recently tweeted:

But he can’t fire Congress, nor the Senate. He is stuck with the political and judicial system that the US has got. And the US is probably stuck with him until he throws a major hissy fit for not getting his own way and chucks the job in.

In the meantime it is likely that Russia, China, North Korea, and much of the Middle East will be trying to work out how they can exploit Trump’s ego.

With the amount of fire power available to lash out with this has to be a major concern.

One slightly reassuring thing – Trump seems to be relying more on generals to run his administration. They may be the best chance of keeping his flaws in check.

English to meet Turnbull

The New Zealand and Australian Prime Ministers will meet in Queenstown today.

Stuff: Time for another ‘pyjama diplomacy’

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should be able to hit the ground running when he meets Bill English for the first time in Queenstown.

During the earlier more formal part of their talks the Christchurch fires will probably be first up for discussion – Australia has already offered help and Turnbull and English will likely discuss what’s needed.

But the leaders will also discuss the vacuum in world trade talks after US President Donald Trump pulled America out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and regional security.

English will be sounding Turnbull out on ways to keep the TPP alive – including by reaching out to China to take America’s place as an economic super power.

That would make the deal attractive again to the likes of Japan, and could kick start efforts to save it.

And Tracy Watkins: Counting our trans-Tasman blessings

The annual meeting with the Australian Prime Minister is one of the most important events on the New Zealand prime minister’s calendar. Here are eight reasons why.

She lists:

  1. Trans-Tasman travel
  2. When the chips are down, Australia is there for us.
  3. CER
  4. We’ve both got a lot riding on each other’s success
  5. Tourism
  6. We’re family
  7. They’ve got our back (defence)
  8. A shared history