Review – Simon Bridges meeting in Rotorua

Comment by Barrie Sargeant with views on a political meeting Simon Bridges had in Rotorua recently:

Simon Bridges is the young, new-ish National Party Leader. Historically National has had more turns at running things than the other parties. For this reason he is probably somebody to take notice of, even if not in power at the moment. Bridges is currently doing a tour of regional towns in order to gauge the mood out there and to introduce himself to the many who are unaware that he has spent the past 10 years in parliament.

A member of AWSM [Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement] had a front row seat as the leader arrived late for his public meeting in Rotorua. This is a summary of the main part of the meeting…


The audience waited patiently for Bridges to appear, giving time to scan those who had assembled. They numbered about 200, which has to be a pretty good turnout for lunch time in a town where not much happens politically. Of that number, only 10-15 didn’t have grey hair. To some extent that could be the reality you’d expect with the working age population being at work at that time of day. Though perhaps if they really wanted to turn up, they could’ve made the effort, so maybe it speaks to the apathy of people who would rather be in the lunchroom eating their ham sandwiches than listening to a ham.

It might also simply be an indication of the sort of demographic the National Party has in the regions and therefore a cause for concern if they stopped to consider the implications for the future. It’s probably a combination of all this, it’s hard to tell.

Upon arriving, Bridges scanned the crowd then opened with a potted auto-biography. This combined a number of points that showed why his succession to the leadership was probably welcomed among the party spin doctors. He stressed being a kid from a non-political family (just an ordinary bloke), yet one who had been a member of the party since a teenager (so a solid operator who won’t rock the boat), being Maori (they don’t all vote Labour) and an experienced lawyer who went to Oxford (therefore appealing to lower middle class voters with aspirations).

This scattergun set of attributes was then rounded off with a folksy joke about when he met his wife for the first time, though tellingly it was more about her meeting him. Finally he closed with a story about taking his father-in-law to a rugby game (like any good kiwi joker) and encountering ex- Labour Leader Andrew Little and buying the poor guy a beer (generous to his opponents). While he seemed to hold the audience’s attention up until this point, the last anecdote fell surprisingly flat. Perhaps it sounded patronising coming from someone who hasn’t exactly been a major success himself yet and might end up with the same fate as Little himself. Whatever the reason, it didn’t gain the positive reaction he had hoped for, so he moved on.

For his segue Bridges chose to have a few digs at NZ First leader, Winston Peters. This is understandable on one level. After all, Bridges won his seat in parliament in an electorate Peters had long considered his personal fiefdom. Though another National Party nobody had been first to topple Peters in Tauranga, clearly there is bad blood there, and Bridges was relishing being able to push that wound.

This was followed by pitching himself as a realistic and pragmatic politician who knows that proportional representation requires working with minor parties.

Bridges then rattled off a list of possible tails for him to wag. This included the Maori Party, who were decisively ejected from parliament last election, The Opportunities Party, a market research driven vehicle whose multi-millionaire founder has stepped down [and the party itself shortly after this meeting has decided to de-register itself] and The Conservatives, a Christian based right-wing party whose support plummeted beyond repair when their hypocritical millionaire founder was involved in a sexual scandal. Next he mentioned the free-market fanatics of ACT, who at least have one MP but nothing new to offer and only exist in parliament thanks to the electoral tinkering of National.

Not content with this list of real micro-parties, Bridges then invented non-existent parties. This included something he called ‘True Greens’, a supposed faction who want to go beyond allegedly being “…watermelons, green on the outside and red on the inside…disguised socialists” and become a single-issue environmentalist party. This is either woefully ignorant or deliberately misleading in not acknowledging the Greens have worked hard to be a party with multiple policies across a range of issues and thus have survived decades. They are far from a single issue party.

The other fantasy party apparently consists of a breakaway faction of NZ First who prefer the Nats. True, Peters may not have a career for much longer given his age and there is no obvious successor. However, the reality is that being eclectic populists, they have never had much trouble working with National in the past and are unlikely to in the future. The reality is, NZ First has a solid support base which has held together for a long time and the party is National’s most likely partner and Peters is still its leader. So it probably isn’t really good politics to denigrate somebody whose support you need. It smacks more of a combination of arrogance and sour grapes because Peters chose Labour this time round.

The next part of the meeting was given over to a selection of questions from the audience. This was a good opportunity for the guest to think on his feet on a range of issues. These went from a question about trade with Russia, with the emphasis in the reply being support for ‘free trade’ with the barest nod to human rights tacked on at the end, to veterans affairs and the closure of the local post shop. The latter was something Bridges clearly wasn’t aware of and he largely deflected it to a generalised answer about services and a reference to other issues.

Not surprisingly for a National Party lawyer and ex-prosecutor, he spoke unimaginatively about the need for more prisons and the supposed ‘softness’ of Labour. He criticised the current proportional representation system on the basis that it should automatically give the party with the most votes, first rights to form a government (guess which one that was at the last election?). Then he hinted that the current government will somehow continue to manipulate the system in its favour in some unspecified way.

The one time in the meeting he actually received applause was related to a local roading issue, mostly because this had come unprompted so he probably did have some genuine knowledge of what it was about. Adding a wild card to the event, a very agitated and barely coherent guy ranted to Bridges about World War One veterans. He waved a thick dossier, mentioned dates of parliamentary committee meetings and spoke of a cover-up without really explaining the substance to anyone. Bridges looked as bemused as everyone else and said “I don’t know about that”. Not so much an admission of modesty, more the obvious default position anyone would take.

Overall it has to be said, Bridges handled the spontaneous nature of this section of the meeting pretty well, or at least he made no big blunders and never looked stumped for an answer. Mind you, this was mostly due to not being too specific and making sure to qualify statements rather than make any bold claims or try to be too clever.

At this point, it felt like time to leave. It wasn’t technically the end of the meeting, but it seems unlikely any dramatic events or amazing new gems of wisdom were issued forth during the remainder of it.

So, what to say? Bridges comes across as a handsome, bland, slickly packaged career politician undergoing a leadership apprenticeship. His instincts are socially conservative but he realises the need to be pragmatic and to keep things steady. At present, Labour is in its honeymoon period in government and could be in power for a long time. Should he eventually come to power himself, you won’t get anything new from Bridges. His will be much like the calibre of all the other governments in this country, (including the current one), dull and middle of the road. If or when there is a major political or economic earthquake it will be interesting to see whether that will be good enough for the system to hold together.

Source: http://awsm.nz/2018/07/12/building-bridges/

Putin-Trump meeting

One of the criticisms of Donald Trump’s meeting in Singapore with Kim Yong Un was that Trump was legitimising Kim and giving him significant international exposure and credibility.

The same is being said of the Trump-Putin meeting.

How Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world will be affected by the meeting.

But there is pressure on Trump to confront Putin:

Somehow I don’t think this is likely.

Trump is more likely to come away from the meeting saying that it was a great meeting, he got on very well with Putin and they would work well together in the future somewhat more embellished probably).

Ardern meets Merkel

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has moved on from France to Germany to meet chancellor Angela Merkel.

RNZ: Merkel, Ardern discuss threats to world order

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has concluded “warm and engaging” talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel as she seeks to strengthen ties with one of the most powerful and experienced leaders in Europe.

The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues in their first meeting at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, including the various pressures threatening the world order.

At a joint conference after the meeting, Ms Merkel said they’d discussed Brexit, the ongoing tensions with Russia and the recent military action in Syria.

“We are very grateful New Zealand has taken a very clear stance on all these issues,” she said.

Ms Ardern appeared to slightly strengthen her language on the US-led air strikes on Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack, saying she “utterly” accepted the need to respond to “a blatant breach of international law”.

“Whilst we absolutely maintain the need to – first and foremost – seek resolution through the likes of the United Nations, when that is not possible, we utterly accept the use of alternative means to address what has to be challenged.”

Ms Ardern described the German chancellor as “extremely thoughtful” and thanked her for her strong support for beginning negotiations for an EU-NZ trade deal.

In January last year, Dr Merkel pledged to push the EU to work towards a quick trade accord after meeting then-Prime Minister Bill English.

Germany’s support is important for negotiating an NZ -EU trade deal, and President Macron has also just indicated French support.

Dr Merkel was asked how the meeting had gone – to which Ms Ardern quipped, “they want to know if you found me likeable”.

Really? Cringe.

The German chancellor said the time had flown and the conversation had been fun.

“You can be proud of your Prime Minister. If you want to write this down for the New Zealand press. This will be the headline in the morning papers I trust.”

It didn’t make the RNZ headline but it waste some space in the article.

Curran’s future may depend on phone call

RNZ chairman Richard Griffin and chief executive Paul Thompson appeared before a select committee in Parliament yesterday to correct inadvertent erroneous assurances made to the committee last month that resulted in RNZ news manager Carol Hirschfeld.

Minister of Broadcasting Clare Curran was already under fire for her part in organising a meeting with Hirschfeld and subsequently appearing to avoid disclosing that the meeting had taken place. It also appears that Curran threw Hirschfeld under  bus to protect her own (political) career, and she added to Jacinda Ardern’s difficulties as Prime Minister. Ardern still backs Curran, but she must be getting exasperated with apparent ineptitude.

More was revealed at yesterdau’s meeting, but perhaps the career killer blow wasn’t reevealed – the contents of a phone call Curran made to Griffin. Their descriptions differ.

Andrew Geddis at RNZ: Politicians seek different narratives at RNZ hearing

This hearing ostensibly was to allow the chair of Radio NZ’s board, Richard Griffin, and chief executive Paul Thompson to correct their previous inaccurate statements about the now-infamous breakfast meeting between Radio NZ’s head of content Carol Hirschfeld and new Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran.

Back at the start of March, Mr Griffin and Mr Thompson informed the committee that Ms Hirschfeld had assured them this meeting was an inconsequential coincidence; nothing more than a chance encounter following a gym workout. They subsequently found out that Ms Hirschfeld had misled them and the meeting was a prearranged discussion about the state of New Zealand’s media.

Correcting the record then becomes necessary because misleading a select committee is potentially a contempt of Parliament, in theory punishable by a fine or imprisonment. And even if Parliament chose not to pursue the matter as contempt, public bodies simply should not lie to their political overseers, intentionally or otherwise.

National did possibly draw some blood with its questions regarding Minister Curran’s subsequent communications with Mr Griffin. She left him a voicemail last week which he characterised as containing a “strong suggestion” that rather than turn up before the Committee in person to answer questions, he just provide it with a written statement.

This is important, because Minister Curran has told both the public and the Prime Minister that her message to Mr Griffin simply advised him that providing a written statement for the Committee’s meeting last week would be a quicker way of correcting the record. If she in fact went beyond this and actually counselled him not to attend in person, then she will be in real trouble.

National MP Melissa Lee’s last action at the Committee meeting was to request a copy of the relevant voicemail. Minister Curran’s political future may well rest upon what it says.

Curran was quick to release texts between her and Hirschfeld that left no doubt that Hirschfeld had lied to her bosses about the meeting – it is still not known whether she was trying to protect herself or Curran.

Curran’s future may rest on whether Griffin releases a recording or transcript of the phone call.

NZH: Richard Griffin says he was told not to comment on Hirschfeld, Curran meeting

Griffin told the committee today that on March 22, about five minutes before Curran was due in Parliament to answer questions, he received a call from her office.

Griffin said he was “gobsmacked” to receive the call to say the December 5 meeting could come up in the questions.

“The staffer’s attitude was ‘we will handle this appropriately but we’d like you basically to stay out of it’. I was gobsmacked quite honestly.”

In a timeline provided to the committee, Griffin said: “I was told that, if the matter was raised, the Minister and her staff would be responding as they felt appropriate and that they expected there would be “no comment” from RNZ”.

It was reported on Tuesday that Curran had phoned Griffin on March 29 to suggest it would be better for him to write a letter rather than appear in person.

Both Curran and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have denied that, saying Curran left a phone message to pass on advice from the Office of the Leader of the House that a letter would be faster to correct the record if Griffin was unable to make it to the select committee in person.

Today Griffin said: “She made it very clear that she wanted me to write a letter to the chair of the select committee to be on his desk before one o’clock that day which would then ensure that there wasn’t a public hearing involving either of us.”

NZH: PM Jacinda Ardern reiterates support for embattled minister Clare Curran

Their appearance in Wellington was pre-empted by reports yesterday that the Broadcasting Minister had phoned Griffin to suggest it would be better for him to write a letter rather than appear in person at Parliament.

Both Curran and Ardern earlier denied that, saying Curran left a phone message to pass on advice from the Office of the Leader of the House that a letter would be faster to correct the record if he was unable to make it to the select committee in person.

After opening a science block at Waitaki Boys’ High School, Ardern today stated eight times there was no new information over the Carol Hirschfeld affair involving Curran, or the phone call she made to Griffin about his appearance at the select committee.

Ardern confirmed she had spoken to Curran about her recollection of the voicemail and it matched up with what had been recollected at select committee today.

“The minister has clearly made mistakes, she has apologised for them.

“I certainly advised her that the call to Richard Griffin should not have been made, but as I say there’s nothing new that we have learned from today that we didn’t already know.

“From what I hear has come of today’s meeting, there is no new information, I have reprimanded the minister for making that call she shouldn’t have, but I don’t think we’ve learned anything new from today that we didn’t already know.”

Ardern’s credibility as leader is also at stake over this.

This may all fizzle out now, but will flare up again if the phone call is handed over.

RNZ:

Curran survives but she, RNZ and Ardern are compromised

Clare Curran has survived the furore over meeting with RNZ journalist and manager Carol Hirschfeld, so far, but her reputation (such as it was) has taken a hit, and RNZ has also been compromised. This makes the proposals to give millions more funding for what is called RNZ+ awkward at least. Curran has to work with RNZ management on this.

The loser at this stage is obviously Hirschfeld, who had no option but to resign after it was found that she had repeatedly lied to her bosses about the cafe meeting. Because of her false denials two bosses misinformed Parliament and will be fronting up today to correct statements that had made to a Select Committee.

Jacinda Ardern has given Curran a talking to and a pass, but has looked weak dealing with it (in a difficult situation for her).

Curran remains as a Minister, but she is being slammed all over media, not just for instigating a meeting that she should have known was  ‘naive’ for an incoming minister – correct protocols should have been the first thing she found out about – but I suspect that Hirschfeld was liked a lot more than she was by journalists.

It looks like Curran threw Hirschfeld under a bus to protect her own career. But it is still hard to fathom why Hirschfeld concocted a false story to explain her meeting – was she trying to protect herself or Curran?

It is not just Labour’s plans for RNZ that are compromised. Curran is now being ridiculed given her responsibilities for transparency open government.

Hamish Rutherford: Why no calls for Clare Curran, now Minister of Secret Meetings, to resign?

But Curran, the enigmatic MP for Dunedin South, has made herself a type of cocktail party joke that she will probably never shake, for reasons which have little to do with RNZ, but her other title.

The Minister of Open Government.

When your very job title is the punchline of the joke, you are doomed.

In reality her official portfolio title is less poetic – Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government) – but the other, more earnest moniker has stuck.

If Jacinda Ardern is determined not to sack her, she cannot possibly escape the fact that a plank of her Government – to be more transparent than National – is utterly comic while Curran is its figurehead.

New Zealand needs to focus on open government to assure itself that it deserves to be seen as corruption free.

But Curran is now the Minister of Secret Meetings, the Minister of Astoria and the Minister of Costing a Respected Journalist Her Job. She is in no position to drive more open government.

And this has also compromised Ardern in what was already a difficult couple of weeks for her.

Barry Soper: Jacinda Ardern’s shaky defence of Clare Curran over meeting-gate

Curran’s boss Jacinda Ardern’s backing her minister, essentially saying everyone makes mistakes but acknowledging she should have been more transparent.

A bit of an irony for the associate Minister for Open Government!

Ardern used the ministerial behaviour bible to reinforce her support for her sheepish minister, the Cabinet Manual, that sets out the line that must be toed when interacting with the bureaucracy.

There’s one clause in the manual that could make the Prime Minister’s claim that the rules weren’t breached highly debatable.

It says “if an employee wishes to communicate privately with a Minister about a matter concerning the agency by which he or she is employed, the Minister should ensure that the employee has first raised the matter with the agency’s chief executive.”

The fact that the minister sought the meeting – without first informing the RNZ boss – just makes matters worse.

This may yet caus

That’s from Parliament yesterday. Not a very happy looking bench.

Media “let’s not do this” on TPPA protest meeting

According to The Daily Blog there was a ‘Let’s Not Do This!” public meeting protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership lst night in Auckland, the first in a nationwide tour by Jane Kelsey, Laila Harre and Burcu Kilic.

But the media seem to have a ‘let’s not do this’ attitude to TPPA protest these days, a big change from two years ago. I can’t find any reports.

Even The Daily Blog seems to be largely disinterested given scant reaction shown there.

Here is the only feedback on the meeting I can find, at The Standard:

At last night’s anti-TPPA-11 meeting in Auckland, Laila Harre said that there is no protection for NZ sovereignty over it’s labour/employment laws in the TPP agreement our government plans to sign on 8th March.

Harre has been researching and writing a thesis on it.

She says such agreements cannot protect our labour laws and this needs to be done through the ILO.

Under the TPPA that our government plans to sign, they could be sued for the labour regulations the government is planning to implement.

Harre and Kelsey say that if this agreement is signed, it will be used as a model for other trade agreements.

Kelsey said some in the labour caucus won’t to maintain such a model. But this model is in crisis, and we need to respectful campaign to shift the balance in the government to something more progressive.

National Day of anti-TPPA action on Sunday 4th March.

Demo in Wellington on day of signing, 8 March.

FUrther meetings around NZ before then.

The protest movement seems to be in ‘let’s not do this’ mode.

Media funkstille as far as I can see.

Lobbiest/spy also in meeting with Trump Jr

More details are emerging about the meeting that Donald trump Jnr, Jared Kushner, Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort and up to five other people.

AP/Fox:  Russian-American Lobbyist Says He Was in Trump Son’s Meeting with Lawyer

A Russian-American lobbyist says he attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump’s son, marking another shift in the account of a discussion that was billed as part of a Russian government effort to help the Republican’s White House campaign.

Rinat Akhmetshin confirmed his participation to The Associated Press on Friday. Akhmetshin has been reported to have ties to Russian intelligence agencies, a characterization he dismisses as a “smear campaign.” He told the AP he served in the Soviet military in a unit that was part of counterintelligence but was never formally trained as a spy.

The meeting has heightened questions about whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the election, which is the focus of federal and congressional investigations. In emails posted by Donald Trump Jr. earlier this week, a music publicist who arranged the meeting said a Russian lawyer wanted to pass on negative information about Democrat Hillary Clinton and stated that the discussion was part of a Russian government effort to help the GOP candidate.

While Trump Jr. has confirmed that Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya was in the meeting, he did not disclose Akhmetshin’s presence. The president’s son has tried to discount the meeting, saying that he did not receive the information he was promised.
In a statement Sunday, Trump Jr. said the attorney said that she had information that people tied to Russia were funding the DNC and supporting Clinton, a description that Akhmetshin backed up in his interview with the AP.

In his first public interview about the meeting, Akhmetshin said he accompanied Veselnitskaya to Trump Tower where they met an interpreter who participated in the meeting. He said he had learned about the meeting only that day when Veselnitskaya asked him to attend. He said he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt.

During the meeting, Akhmetshin said Veselnitskaya brought with her a plastic folder with printed-out documents that detailed what she believed was the flow of illicit funds to the Democratic National Committee. Veselnitskaya presented the contents of the documents to the Trump associates and suggested that making the information public could help the Trump campaign, he said.

“This could be a good issue to expose how the DNC is accepting bad money,” Akhmetshin recalled her saying.

Trump Jr. asked the attorney if she had all the evidence to back up her claims, including whether she could demonstrate the flow of the money. But Veselnitskaya said the Trump campaign would need to research it more. After that, Trump Jr. lost interest, according to Akhmetshin.

“They couldn’t wait for the meeting to end,” he said.

Akhmetshin said he does not know if Veselnitskaya’s documents were provided by the Russian government. He said he thinks she left the materials with the Trump associates. It was unclear if she handed the documents to anyone in the room or simply left them behind, he said.

Also from Fox:

Another person plus an as yet unnamed person were now believed to be in the meeting.

More.

Donald Trump Junior, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, the lawyer from Russia, the interpreter, this new guy we found out about today, and a mystery person. John Roberts confirms there was an eight person in the meeting.

Jared Kushner filled out his form, I think it’s an F86, saying who he’d met with and what he’d done, very important stuff, you can go to prison for messing it up intentionally, he went back and added one hundred names and places.  None of these people made it.

 

From The Hill: Kushner updated disclosure to add more than 100 foreign contacts

White House adviser Jared Kushner reportedly updated his federal disclosure form several times to include more than 100 names on a list of foreign contacts.

Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, updated the list of foreign contacts on his disclosure form — which he needed to submit to get security clearance — three times, The New York Times reported.

He added more than 100 names to it, people close to Kushner told The Times.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday said in a “normal political world,” Kushner would no longer have his job.

“If this were a normal political world, Jared Kushner wouldn’t have a job by the end of today,” he said during a Wednesday interview, “and at the very least, he should absolutely have his security clearance revoked.”

Kushner may have to update again with another name or two as his memory gets jogged.

UPDATE:

US discussion

News or views or issues from the USA.


Reuters: Trump’s genial private meetings with CEOs jar with public attacks

When the bosses of some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies headed to Washington in January to meet U.S. President Donald Trump, it had all the makings of a potentially hostile meeting.

Just weeks before, Trump had sent drug stock prices plummeting after accusing the companies of “getting away with murder” by charging too much for medicines.

But the Trump who greeted chief executives on Jan. 31 was a surprisingly genial host who even gave them a personal tour of the Oval Office, according to several participants in the breakfast.

“There is no question that it was better than it could have been or we thought it could be,” said one industry insider familiar with the meeting.

Trump did not repeat his public attacks on the industry. Instead, he focused on “outdated” regulations that drive costs up for drugmakers, according to participants interviewed by Reuters. The CEOs left with Trump’s word that he would streamline regulations and reform the high U.S. corporate tax rate.

An Amgen spokeswoman said Trump made it clear that he wanted to work with the company on U.S. job creation and biotech innovation. Representatives of the other drugmakers declined to comment.

But:

As recently as Tuesday, Trump tweeted he was working on a system to increase competition in the health industry and lower drug pricing, sending pharma shares lower.

The Reuters report shows a number of company share price fluctuations that may have been a result of Trump’s public comments.

“He said one thing for the cameras and the door shuts and then it’s like kumbaya,” said one person who was briefed on a meeting between Trump and a group of CEOs.

“He likes to be seen as engaging and buddy buddy with other big important business leaders,” said this person.

The degree he seems to want to involve himself personally in business matters is unprecedented. It could achieve some positive things but it has significant risks.

Trump’s unpredictability and his different public/private personas could easily result in unintended consequences. Financial and share markets tend to react to uncertainty.

English meets Merkel

Bill English has met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the last engagement on his European trip.

NZ Herald: PM homeward bound after crucial Merkel meeting

English’s first trip as Prime Minister saw him undertake a precarious balancing act of trying to keeping onside with both the EU and the UK – without taking sides to ensure New Zealand was not trampled underfoot by either in the ensuing melee of Brexit.

English had described Germany as the “de facto leader of Europe” and Merkel’s influence is such that her say so will be critical if the New Zealand free trade agreement is to be signed in anything even close to the 2-3 year timeframe European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has estimated.

As with most trade deals New Zealand is unlikely to be a priority for much bigger partners.

Merkel has a lot to deal with in Germany, including an election this year, and also the very contentious immigration issues Europe and Germany are having to deal with.

The other big issue English was interested in talking to Merkel about was the migration issues in Europe – including coping with refugees which Merkel is now facing criticism over, including from US President-elect Donald Trump.

That could see Merkel seeking more help in dealing with the Syrian refugees from English – although English has previously said New Zealand was doing enough.

Although English diligently avoided criticising either the UK or the EU over Brexit, he did make it clear that the free trade deal with the EU was the priority for New Zealand’s interests – not only because it is likely to happen sooner but also because it is much larger.

English said New Zealand’s decision to follow the EU’s lead on Russia was paying off in terms of the agreement with the EU.

“If we can get a trade deal, get up and going with it and get it done in the kind of time that the Europeans are talking about, I think that would be partly because of the relationship we have built up and some of the common stance we have taken around issues like dealing with Russia.”

This illustrates what a balancing act international relations can be. New Zealand wants trade deals with all of the European Union, the UK and Russia but also needs to walk a fine line supporting or opposing other issues between the three.

I presume this trip had been arranged while John Key was still in charge, but English has dived into the deep end on his first big international trip as Prime Minister.

‘Labour West’ promoting Little and Mahuta leadership

An apparently authorised Labour group (Labour West) is promoting a ‘Meet Andrew Little and Nanaia Mahuta’ event in West Auckland that currently appears to exclude the other two leadership contenders. The group has strong connections with ex leader David Cunliffe.

‘Labour West’ on Facebook states:

This is the page for the New Zealand Labour Party in West Auckland. Have a look at our posts, check out what our leaders are up to, and visit events.

It has a photo of Labour MPs including David Cunliffe (MP for New Lynn) – the Facebook page seems to have mainly been a promotion for Cunliffe’s leadership and Labour’s election campaign.

LabourWest

Note also the promotion of an event this Saturday – an opportunity to meet leadership contenders Andrew Little and Nanaia Mahuta. Despite the photo including all four contenders it seems that Grant Robertson and David Parker are not included. This seems very odd for a Labour Party promoted event.

The Facebook page ‘Description’:

This is a page for West Auckland Labour members and supporters. No parliamentary services money has been used in the construction of this website and if it needs authorisation (which is denied) it is authorised by Greg Presland of 512 South Titirangi Road, Titirangi. Go Labour!

Authorised by Greg Presland, a well known supporter and associate of Cunliffe.

There is also an event page on Facebook promoting this meet half the candidates event – Meet Andrew Little and Nanaia Mahuta:

An invite for westies to meet with Andrew Little and Nanaia Mahuta and chat with them about their aspirations for the Labour Party and what they want to achieve if they become leader.

“If they become leader” is an interesting phrase.

Labour West leaders edit

It’s easy to guess who might be behind this promotion.

There have been obvious signs of some angling towards favouring a Little/Mahuta leadership team at The Standard, where Presland happens to be an author and sometimes posts under the pseudonym ‘mickysavage’.

Although it is under the generic name of ‘Notices and Features’ this event is also being promoted at The Standard.

Meet Nanaia and Andrew in West Auckland this weekend

By: Date published: 11:44 pm, October 29th, 2014 – 5 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, labour, Nanaia Mahuta – Tags: , ,

Labour West are hosting an event this weekend where you can meet two of the Labour leadership candidates:

Meet Nanaia Mahuta and Andrew Little

5pm to 7pm Saturday 1 November

Ghazal restaurant, Glen Eden

An invite for westies to meet with Andrew Little and Nanaia Mahuta and chat with them about their aspirations for the Labour Party and what they want to achieve if they become leader.

Facebook event details here.

The West Auckland husting is a week and a half later, on 10 November at the Massey High School Performing Arts Centre. Facebook event here.

One can presume who is responsible for that post.

While it is not unusual for The Standard to be taking sides in leadership contests or attempted coups it seems odd that an apparently authorised Labour organisation is promoting two contenders – and excluding the other two from an event that is obviously leadership contest related.