Annette King appointed High Commissioner to Australia

This is a predicted and I think widely applauded diplomatic appointment.

Beehive: New High Commissioner to Australia announced

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced the appointment of Dame Annette King as High Commissioner to Australia.

“Dame Annette King needs no introduction given her long running career as a parliamentarian where she has previously held a number senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She also was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters.

“As High Commissioner Dame Annette will be working on one of New Zealand’s most significant relationships. The Trans-Tasman bond is exceptionally strong however the relationship is not something we take for granted, and the new High Commissioner will be tasked with keeping the connections strong,” he said.

“The new appointment is notable because Dame Annette is a former MP on a diplomatic posting. In this sense she is an exception. Of the 25 Head of Mission appointments announced this year all have been career diplomats.”

Dame Annette is expected to start her High Commissioner duties at the end of the year.

She should do a good job diplomatically connecting New Zealand to Australia.

There is a funny side to this, as Peters has blasted the appointing of ex-politicians to diplomatic posts.

In 2016 (NZ Herald):  Winston Peters takes swipe at ‘brorocracy’ of diplomatic appointments

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has promised to order “unsuitable” political appointees to return home from diplomatic posts if the party holds the balance of power next year.

In a speech to students at Victoria University today, Mr Peters attacked the “brorocracy” of recent diplomatic appointments.

“As an example of how meritocracy has been abandoned in favour of a mainly white brorocracy look no further than how some of our high commissioners and ambassadors are being appointed.

“This is not to say that some of the people we have sent offshore haven’t been the best choice, or not done excellent service, but some have not been the wisest choice.

“Many have represented an insult to foreign affairs, leaving their posts with absolutely nothing to show, but deterioration in our international relationship with that country.”

Mr Peters went on to say that a political appointee should be “the absolute exception”, and if any future appointments were made that the party regards as unsuitable, it would order that appointee home should it hold the balance of power after next year’s election.

I guess he can say that Annette King is an absolute exception. And she is not a bro.

She may well be as New Zealand’s High Commissioner in Australia.

 

Brexit prompted opening of NZ embassy in Ireland

New Zealand has just opened an embassy in Ireland. This was prompted by Brexit.

Winston Peters:  New Zealand opens first embassy in Dublin

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters officially opened New Zealand’s first resident embassy in Ireland at a ceremony in Dublin today.

“Ireland and New Zealand are already close friends but our new diplomatic post will strengthen connections and further develop the relationship. As small island nations committed to democracy, the rule of law and free and open trade, we look forward to working well together,” said Mr Peters.

Today, Mr Peters met with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, and also visited the Irish National Stud and The Curragh to discuss racing industry issues. While in Dublin, he will also meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, and will deliver a speech at the Irish Institute of International and European Affairs.

“The embassy in Dublin will also foster New Zealand’s trading interests in Europe,” said Mr Peters.

“New Zealand has a lot at stake in its relations with Europe and people on the ground in Dublin makes sense as Europe’s architecture evolves, following the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU,” he said.

Trade between Ireland and New Zealand is growing. It was worth $509 million in the year to June 2018.

New Zealand’s first resident Ambassador to Ireland is Mr Brad Burgess.

Speech by Peters: Opening of New Zealand Embassy in Dublin, Ireland

This follows the opening of an Irish embassy in Wellington: Embassy of Ireland, New Zealand

And the appointment of an Irish ambassador to New Zealand in August: Ireland’s first Ambassador to New Zealand appointed (Newshub):

Ireland’s first Ambassador to New Zealand, Peter Ryan, has been appointed at a ceremony at Government House in Wellington.

“I am deeply honoured to have been given the privilege of representing Ireland as the first resident Ambassador to New Zealand. In taking up the role, I am conscious that we are indeed fortunate to enjoy special ties of kinship and history with New Zealand and with the many New Zealanders of Irish heritage,” Ambassador Ryan said in his speech.

“I am particularly mindful today of the rich contribution of generations of Irish women and men to the development of New Zealand, and their love of both countries.”

The opening of new Embassy in Wellington was first announced by Irish President Michael D. Higgins during his visit to New Zealand in late 2017.

So a new era in diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Ireland.

We now we see these unelected journalists for what they really are?

This is remarkable commentary from Newshub’s ‘national reporter’ Patrick Gower: Simon Bridges is finished

I don’t think that it’s his call to make. It is the business of the National caucus. And if Bridges survives through to the next election, it will be up to voters.

It’s been 62 days since Newshub Political Editor Tova O’Brien got that excellent scoop of Simon Bridges’ limousine expenses.

An excellent scoop? It was a leak of expense information that was die to be released publicly in several days time. The story was not the expenses, which were high but explainable.

The story was the attempt to undermine Bridges by an MP who, later at least, suffers from bad enough mental health problems to seek several months leave from Parliament, and to be committed into mental care with claims of a suicide attempt (that was claimed by Cameron Slater so should be viewed with caution).

Tova O’Brien was effectively aiding and abetting a political hit job – and Gower appears to be doing likewise now.

This was a sophisticated hit from the leaker, setting in motion a political train wreck that’s now at bullet-speed – full-scale political carnage.

I guess it could be called ‘sophisticated’ as the political hit job was done with the collusion of a journalist and a media organisation.

Gower seems to see glee in setting in motion a political train wreck and precipitating ‘full-scale political carnage’ – except that he is over-egging a rotten pudding.

We now we see these elected representatives for what they really are; concerns over possible mental health issues have been tossed aside in the rush to the kill or be killed.

There is no humanity.

What we actually saw was non-elected journalists tossing aside mental health concerns as they shilled for a political kill – and now Gower seems to be ecstatic over the thrill of the kill.

This is alarming from a major media organisation. Is Newshub alarmed about what they have been used for?

Meanwhile, National isn’t addressing the important issues. There are not enough teachers for our classrooms and there’s not enough money in our wallets to pay for petrol.

Actually that’s bullshit. National have been accused more of the opposite – of criticising too many things. They have certainly been trying to address teachers and petrol prices.

The only thing in Bridges’ favour here is that National is short of contenders.

More bullshit. There may be one less contender in National, but they still have 54 MPs as alternatives to Bridges. Ity’;s just that now would be a stupid time to contest the leadership, which would reward the maverick MP and activist journalists for their hit job.

But back to Simon Bridges – this is about him and how he’s not handling the job – or connecting with the public.

This was obvious enough to political observers for months. It didn’t need an attempt to force Bridges out of the leadership role to point that out.

Ironically Bridges has probably strengthened his leadership after Newshub’s collusion in trying to have him dumped.

The only chance National has to get back in power is a deal with Peters.

More bullshit. That’s not the only way for National to get back into power. Currently their coalition options look grim, but under MMP there are a range of options, including:

  • Act could make a miraculous resurgence
  • Greens could support a National led government (unlikely at this stage but it can’t be ruled out)
  • Labour and National could form a grand coalition
  • the Maori Party could return and support a National-led government
  • a new party could emerge and beat the threshold
  • National could split and get enough votes between two parties to form a government
  • National could get enough votes to form a government on their own (they have come close in the past)

Last term Gower often obsessed over National needing NZ First to stay in government. Until the Little/Ardern switch it looked very unlikely Labour would have been able to form a government, so National were in the box seat.

And the way Winston keeps burning Bridges, that will never happen.

That’s why Simon Bridges is finished.

Winston burns anyone when it suits him – and then forgets all his rants and promises and flip flops if it suits him.

It may actually be more likely that Winston will be finished after the next election. There’s certainly a bigger chance that NZ First will crash and burn than National.

It doesn’t matter how many days are left, Simon Bridges, because there is no chance National can win in 2020.

That’s a pathetic claim from someone who remarkably used to be Newshub’s political editor.

And it hardly even makes sense – he implies that National has no chance regardless of Bridges leading them or not.

This is very poor commentary from Gower.

Worse – it seems that he supports and is ecstatic about collusion between an MP with mental health problems and journalists and media in a concocted coup attempt.

Gower can be dismissed as out of touch and irrelevant, but Newshub look very poor here and have seriously diminished their credibility as politically neutral media.

Bridges and National have problems – that’s normal for any political party. But National at least are likely to survive, and are likely to eventually get back into Government, with or without Bridges.

Newshub have a bigger challenge trying to survive. While the Jami-Lee Ross headlines may have given them a temporary boost to ratings and clicks, it has seriously damaged their already struggling reputation.

Gower hasn’t helped – he has emphasised how low they have stooped on this.

 

Macron and Merkel – emotion and unity on Armistice Day centenary

Angela Merkel, the first German leader since World War 2 to visit the site where the World War 1 armistice site, has joined with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron in an emotional show of unity in events marking the centenary of Armistice Day.

BBC: Macron and Merkel mark end of World War One

French President c and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have left their own mark of reconciliation at the start of events to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

They signed a book of remembrance in a railway carriage identical to the one in which the 1918 Armistice was sealed.

Mrs Merkel became the first German leader since World War Two to visit the forest near the town of Compiègne in northern France where the Armistice was signed.

She and Mr Macron unveiled a plaque to Franco-German reconciliation, laid a wreath and signed a book of remembrance in a replica railway carriage.

The original wagon, on which it was modelled, was used by Adolf Hitler to accept France’s capitulation to Nazi Germany in June 1940.

Mr Macron will lead the main event of the centenary – a sombre commemoration on Sunday at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to France’s fallen under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Sunday afternoon will see Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel attend a peace conference – the Paris Peace Forum – with leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Macron initiated the peace conference. As here in New Zealand commemorations of World War 1 have highlighted the horrors of war and as well as remembrance of the huge number who died in the conflict have had significant promotions of alternatives to war – that is, peace.

But where Donald Trump goes, controversy is certain to follow. He did not take part in the peace conference.

And Trump was widely criticised for not attending a remembrance event at an American cemetery.

After an hour of talks with Mr Macron and lunch with their wives Melania and Brigitte, Mr Trump had been due to visit one of two American cemeteries on his schedule.

But he cancelled his trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial due to “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather”.

White House officials later explained that low cloud would have prevented his helicopter from landing, and cited security concerns about arranging a motorcade to the site.

Gen. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, attended on the president’s behalf.

Kelly managed to handle the “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather”.

David Frum (President George W Bush’s speechwriter):

Nicholas Soames, UK Conservative MP and grandson of British wartime leader Winston Churchill:

Trump was grouchy before he got to France, taking a swipe at Macron via Twitter.

The row began when Mr Macron told French radio station Europe 1 radio on Tuesday “we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States”.

Mr Macron went on to mention threats to Europe, including “re-emerging authoritarian powers” that were well-armed on Europe’s borders, and attempts to launch cyber-attacks, before concluding: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

Mr Trump responded angrily in a Friday night tweet, writing: “President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly!”

Mr Macron has already raised spending considerably to meet a Nato target of 2% of the GDP going to defence.

He is also overseeing the formation of a European Intervention Initiative, a 10-nation endeavour backed by Germany and the UK.

(me controversy also from German far right Alternative for Germany AfD party co-leader Alexander Gauland – Germany has no place in WW1 ceremony for ‘winners’- far-right leader

German Chancellor Angela Merkel should not have taken part in a ceremony in France on Sunday marking the centenary of the Armistice as it is an event for the “winners” of World War One, said the leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Germany lost the war and Merkel’s participation in a ceremony for the former allies amounted to an attempt to rewrite history, AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland said.

“We can’t put ourselves in a historical situation that clearly favours the winner and walk alongside Mr. Macron through the Arc de Triomphe,” he said, referring to the famous Paris monument.

That totally misses the point of the Armistice Day commemoration. It isn’t about winners, it is about remembering the huge losses suffered by many countries, and trying to avoid any sort of repeat of the stupidity of the war.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has been representing New Zealand in France – Foreign Minister attends Armistice Day and Paris Peace Forum

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will represent New Zealand at Armistice commemorations in France and attended the inaugural Paris Peace Forum later today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calls for ‘peace and inclusion’ on Remembrance Day

Ardern’s Speech to Armistice Day National Ceremony 2018

I don’t know why Ardern didn’t go to France, but that was signalled in July when New Zealand plans were announced – Government releases details of Armistice Day centenary plans

Haumaha report to be released on Monday

There seems to have been a lot of fluffing around since Tracey Martin received the report over a week ago, following the inquiry into the appointment of Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha. Yesterday Martin announced that the report would be released on Monday at 11 am.

On Newshub Nation  on Saturday morning:

All right, final question with your third hat on – Internal Affairs Minister. You’re in charge of the inquiry into Wally Haumaha’s appointment to Deputy Police Commissioner. You have that report right now, so when are you going to release it?

Monday at 11am.

Why have you not released it before the police commissioner went to the select committee?

Because, first of all, I didn’t even know the police commissioner was going to the select committee. Because I needed to make sure that Crown Law had gone through and redacted all the names and so on and so forth of Woman A, Woman B and Woman C, to protect their privacy. And so that is what I did. I wanted to make sure that that had happened and then to set in the process by which to release it publicly.

So they took a week to redact names from the report, and then deferred release of the report until after the weekend – they would have been slammed if they released the report on Friday afternoon, so I guess Monday is as good a time as any.

Jacinda Ardern will have had plenty of time to prepare for her response, either following the release of the report or at her weekly media conference on Monday at 4 pm.


One could wonder if this had any connection: NZ First party president denies laying down the law in Nelson

NZ First’s president called a sudden party meeting on Saturday to deal with “concerning issues” that were said to involve a rift.

New president Lester Gray flew into Nelson with the party’s judicial officer, lawyer Brian Henry. One source said he was demanding members toe the party line, or face expulsion.

The short-notice invitation from Gray said “this week I have been notified of some potentially concerning issues for the NZ First Party. We have therefore called a special meeting in Nelson for Saturday.”

However, Gray said it was a standard electorate meeting, with the agenda closed to members.

Members across parts of the South Island received an email late on Friday morning, calling them to the meeting the following day.

Martin received the report that Friday. I don’t know whether the ‘special meeting’ had anything to do with the report or not

Oddly, Martin didn’t hand on a copy of the report to the Prime Minister until the following Monday.

Question No. 12—Internal Affairs

12. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Which Ministers, if any, have been provided with a copy or executive summary of the final report of the Government Inquiry into the Appointment Process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police, and when were those Ministers provided with those copies or summaries?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister of Internal Affairs): My office delivered a copy to the office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

Chris Bishop: Will she be discussing the report and the next steps the Government will be taking with the State Services Commissioner and/or the Solicitor-General?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: My office is currently taking legal advice around the process to hand over to the Minister of State Services and the process with which to do pre-releases to those who need to see the report—e.g., those who participated in it—and then when that report will be released. We are trying to release the report as quickly as possible.

Surely this could (should) have all been worked out prior to the report being handed over.

On Wednesday:

Question No. 10—Internal Affairs

10. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Does the report of the Inquiry into the Appointment Process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police recommend that the appointment process be reopened?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister of Internal Affairs): The Government is not going to talk about the findings of the report until it is publicly released. We are following the process recommended by the inquiry, which is to first provide the report to the interested parties.

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Because it is not in the public interest, we are following the process recommended by the inquiry, which is to first provide the report to the interested parties.

Chris Bishop: Does the report of the inquiry into the appointment process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police make findings or recommendations in relation to the allegations of bullying against Mr Haumaha made by the three public servants who worked with him?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: I refer the member to my answer to the primary question. It is those people exactly who we are trying to make sure are protected.

Martin repeats “The Government is not going to talk about the findings of the report until it is publicly released”. But then…

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister confirm, in light of the report, which she has seen, that the allegations of a cover-up are just plain ridiculous?

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: Unfortunately, the scope of the inquiry is not around the terrible allegations put forward by members of this Parliament.

…she responds to a question from Peters regarding the findings of the report. Obviously Peters had seen the report or had been advised of the contents of the report by now.

Peters and NZ First have associations with Haumaha and his appointment, so it seems odd that a NZ First minister is managing the release of the report.

 

 

 

Lusk and Slater further connected to NZ First

Winston Peters has been a very successful political strategist over the decades, apart from the occasional hiccup, like losing the Tauranga and NZ First being dropped from Parliament in 2008, and losing the Northland electorate in 2017.

So it is odd to see him appearing to work with Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater. Slater is a discredited political activist and lacks support now even on Whale Oil. Lusk is not someone to promote on a politician’s CV given his negative methods and thrill of the political kill.

Richard Harman at Politic suggests more connections – Dirty politics, Russell McVeagh and Winston Peters. The bizarre story of two high priced dinners

One of the key players in the 2014 National Party “dirty politics” allegations appears to have become involved with NZ First.

The Hawke’s Bay political consultant, Simon Lusk, attended two recent NZ First “business networking” evenings with NZ First Leader, Winston Peters.

Lusk featured prominently in the “dirty politics” allegations along with his close associate, Cameron “Whaleoil” Slater.

The news of Lusk’s involvement comes at the same time as one of his longest term clients, Jami Lee Ross, has announced that he will give his proxy vote to NZ First but that they will cast it with National.

POLITIK has spoken to two business people who attended the functions.

They both said Lusk appeared to be very busy during the events in some sort of administrative role.

What is unclear is whether Lusk had any role broking the agreement for New Zealand First to cast Ross’s proxy vote while he is away from the House.

Peters and Slater share the same lawyer, Brian Henry who is also the NZ First constitutional officer who chaired the lengthy debate about re-writing the constitution att heir conference.

The impression must now be that Lusk and Slater are supporting New Zealand First and that Peters appears to go along with that.

Slater has shown obvious intent to inflict as much damage to National that he can since the party distanced themselves from him after Dirty Politics in 2014, and especially through last year’s election campaign and since Simon bridges took over the leadership.

This fits with Winston’s aims. Last year he had thought NZ First could take over Labour’s position as second biggest party, until Jacinda Ardern replaced Andrew Little.

He now seems to think that he can dump on National and take over from them, which fits with Slater’s agenda.

How will NZ First supporters and voters view this? Many of them were anti-National so may not be fussed on supporting New National.

And if NZ First score Jami-lee Ross as a candidate – see Ross to stand for NZ First in Botany – plan or joke? – that is not going to do much for their credibility. They already have a questionable line up of MPs.

Lusk has been promoted as some sort of master political strategist, but it’s hard to see a NZ First/Ross/Slater combination doing well with voters. Perhaps it’s the best of very limited options.

Harman:

The networking evenings bizarrely, were hosted in Wellington and Auckland by the top-drawer law firm, Russell McVeagh and drew around  60 prominent business people and industry lobbyists at each venue.

Among the attendees in Wellington, is believed to have been Business NZ CEO, Kirk Hope.

Some of the attendees are believed to have made substantial donations at the $300 a head functions to the party.

Perhaps Lusk and Slater don’t care as long as there’s money in it for them.

Ross to stand for NZ First in Botany – plan or joke?

It is easy to take this comment as a bit of a joke:

Funny thought ….. JLR jumps to NZF, a bit of theatre from Winny on saying XYZ, then JLR enters a by-election … wins for NZF and gets a plumb role in govt.

Oh so so funny

That seems ridiculous, but lets join a few dots.

That was said by someone with a close association with Cameron Slater.

Early last year Winston Peters’ lawyer represented Slater in his defamation case versus Colin Craig (unsuccessfully).

For many years Slater had criticised and ridiculed Peters, but suddenly last year switched to supporting Peters and NZ First through the election campaign. This may have simply been a way of trying to damage Bill English and National, who he had fallen out with, but it did raise some questions of why the sudden switch.

This year Slater has continued to attack National, and has attacked Simon Bridges since he took over the leadership.

When Jami-Lee Ross was ejected from the National caucus and took leave from Parliament (again) Slater became prominent in his support of Ross, and used information and secret recordings from Ross to attack Bridges and National. Some of Slater’s Whale Oil helpers have continued with their anti-bridges/National agenda.

Yesterday Peters announced that NZ First would proxy vote for Ross in Parliament – see NZ First proxy voting for Jami-lee Ross. Peters sounded uncomfortable trying to explain this unusual arrangement.

RNZ:  NZ First to hold Jami-Lee Ross’ proxy vote

Speaking to reporters at Parliament, Mr Peters said the decision was made in the “spirit of representation” to ensure Botany voters were heard in Parliament.

“We’re not here to kick the National Party,” Mr Peters said.

“We are here to say to the people of Botany… you deserve to have your voice heard.”

As long as Ross stays away from Parliament the voice of the people won’t be heard in Parliament, so this is a strange claim – unless Peters is just trying to impress Botany voters perhaps.

Back to the ‘funny’ comment – I would have thought that Peters was too politically astute to stand Parliament’s most discredited MP for NZ First in a by-election. But Slater and his mates could be silly enough to think it is a cunning plan. He and the person who made the comment have histories of trying some fairly stupid stunts.

I guess anything is possible but it is very hard to see Ross stand any chance if he tried to keep his Botany seat, even if he happens to recover from his claimed health problems in time for the campaign – someone who is unable to do their job in Parliament would struggle to get votes in an electorate.

Peters must realise this, so it’s hard to see him going for this unless he thought it was a way to kick National – when he says something like “We’re not here to kick the National Party” that raises suspicions that that is exactly what his intention actually is, akin to his ‘with the greatest respect’ comments.

It would be remarkable if Ross could get anywhere near close to winning Botany.

If he somehow managed that, getting “a plumb role in govt” would also be a stretch. That would mean he would take over responsibilities of a current NZ First minister, which would be unlikely to go down well. And Labour would be nuts to accept Ross in their Cabinet.

So this all seems to be a big joke – except that I wouldn’t put it past Slater and his mates to think it was a cunning plan.

It would go something like this:

  • Ross too sick to attend Parliament
  • NZ First proxy votes for Ross
  • Ross resigns from Parliament
  • Ross now not sick and stands for NZ First in Botany by-election, and wins
  • Ross appointed Cabinet Minister, replacing Tracey Martin as Minister of Children and Minister of (Internal) Affairs

Yes, it’s a joke.

NZ First proxy voting for Jami-lee Ross

Winston peters has announced that NZ First will proxy vote for Jami-lee Ross in Parliament in his absence – the vote will be the same as the national party vote. Peters has claimed it is for democratic integrity and ensuring Ross’ electorate gets a vote in Parliament, but that sounds bogus. The vote will make no difference to anything.

Peters said that NZ First whips were asked ‘weeks ago’ by Ross and have just agreed to vote on his behalf, despite Peters saying that Ross should resign.

It does nothing to give Botany voters representation in Parliament – only Ross can do that, or better, by resigning someone with a mandate could do that.

Peters may think this is getting one over National but it just makes him and NZ First look stupid.

Peters sounded grouchy when interviewed on Checkpoint trying to explain this.

 

Immigration Minister to reconsider Sroubek residency decision

Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway announced that he would reconsider the decision to grant residency to illegal immigrant and convicted drug importer Karel Sroubek after National brought up ‘new information’ in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had suggested that media ‘read between the lines’ on the decision and it was assumed that residency was granted because Sroubek feared for his safety if he returned. However it has been revealed that he has returned to the Czech Republic voluntarily since coming to New Zealand. This suggests that the safety concerns may have been overstated, and he may not have informed officials of his travel.

Both Lees-Galloway and  have pointed their fingers at immigration officials for not providing complete information.

1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Hon Simon Bridges: Why did her Government grant residency to Karel Sroubek?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, to correctly categorise the decision that was made, my understanding is that he already had residency, albeit in an incorrect name.

Hon Simon Bridges: What is her response to the Dominion Post this morning, which said, “So yes, prime minister, we have read between the lines. Our reading of it suggests that Sroubek is a person of poor character, a criminal who cannot be trusted, who arrived here under false pretences. He should be deported. You have got this wrong.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as that member should know given that when he was in office there were roughly 100 deportations cancelled. From time to time to time Ministers do have information put in front of them that makes for very difficult decisions. I have seen information that would suggest, from the information reports, that they have been in very similar circumstances.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t it clear that her Government has prioritised a dangerous criminal’s welfare over public safety, contrary to her statement that any further offending actions by Karel Sroubek “sits with this individual … anything further is off the minister’s conscience and it’s on theirs.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is being made absolutely clear by the Minister. He has put into writing that anything further would mean that he would automatically be deported. On the face of it, of course, it looks like an obvious decision, which demonstrates that from time to time, Ministers in this position do receive additional information. What we have to make sure is that that information that the Minister makes the decision on is consistent and clear, and that’s for officials to ensure that they have provided that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t it the case that since the early 2000s, Karel Sroubek has been back to the Czech Republic, and doesn’t that make any decision by Iain Lees-Galloway ridiculous?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The Minister made the decision based on the information he had at the time, and he is no different to any other Minister of any political persuasion. They have to deal with the information provided to them by officials. If there is information that contradicts the basis on which the Minister made the decision, then that would be for him to go back to the officials and seek further advice. I would have an expectation that he would do that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Did she and the Minister not know he had been to the Czech Republic since the early 2000s, and is she going to fess up they just got this clearly, badly wrong?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Every Minister does rely on the advice that they are provided by officials, and the Minister is no different in that regard to the last Minister, who overturned 108 deportations. We are all, as Ministers, reliant on the information we are provided. Again, if there is anything that contradicts the information that’s been provided, it is for the Minister to go back to officials, and it would be my expectation he would do that.

Winston Peters jumped in to try to support Ardern, and tried to divert blame to the National Government. His initial efforts were ruled out of order, and responses by National MPs were disproportionately punished by the Speaker.

Rt Hon David Carter: Because it’s not your job—

SPEAKER: That’s six. Any more?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yeah, OK. It’s worth it.

SPEAKER: That’s 10 supplementary questions that will be taken from the National Party today.

But Peters was allowed to rephrase.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the basis of information being given to this House in good faith, has the Prime Minister been appraised of the number of times this man came back into the country, and who was the Government at the time?

Ardern briefly took the opportunity to take a swipe at National but switched back to the more serious matter before her.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Obviously, members will draw their inference from the fact that we have only been in Government for 12 months. Again, though, I reiterate that a Minister would make a decision based on the information in front of him, and we would all have a fair expectation that if there is information to contradict that, we would expect the Minister to go back to his officials.

The next question also addressed the issue.

2. Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Justice: What is New Zealand’s process for extraditing Czech nationals to the Czech Republic, and what stage is the application for extradition of Karel Sroubek, also known as Jan Antolik, at?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE (Minister of Justice): The Czech Republic is able to make an application for extradition of one of their citizens, and any application is made under the Extradition Act 1996. There is a process that usually starts with an application being made through diplomatic channels. It goes to the Minister of Justice in New Zealand. It is an application ultimately determined by the District Court on the grounds of eligibility, and then the final decision on whether or not an extradition is made is made by the Minister of Justice of the day. On the second part of the question, despite the Czech Republic indicating to the New Zealand Government in 2015 that it had an interest in Mr Sroubek, no formal application for extradition has been made.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why is the Parole Board aware of an extradition request?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: I’m not responsible for the determinations of the Parole Board.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Did the Minister speak with the immigration Minister ahead of the Minister approving residency for Karel Sroubek?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: No.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Was the Minister aware of any controversy around Karel Sroubek before the Minister of Immigration granted residency?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: No, and there’d be no reason for me to have been so.

Hon Mark Mitchell: If officials advise there is sufficient evidence to support an extradition request, will he extradite Karel Sroubek back to the Czech Republic?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: That member will be well aware that it would be entirely inappropriate and not in the public interest for me to comment on any case that may be the subject of an extradition application.

It became a triple whammy.

4. Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Immigration: Does he believe he has considered all relevant factors in deciding to grant residency to Karel Sroubek, also known as Jan Antolik?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Minister of Immigration): Shortly before question time today, I became aware that information may exist that appears, on the face of it, to directly contradict information that I used and relied upon to make that decision. I am now taking advice on my options and need to consider the veracity of the new information that has been made available to me.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Did all of those factors include submissions from Czech Republic officials about any statements Mr Sroubek had made relevant to them, and, if not, will he be also asking the Czech officials to provide submissions?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: Given the potential new information that I have just become aware of, I do not intend to make any further comment on the information that I was provided. I need to take advice, and I need to carefully consider the way forward from here.

So a commitment by Lees-Galloway to reconsider the residency decision due to new information becoming available.

This issue was already awkward for the Government. It has now become embarrassing. One would hope that a minister would do as much as possible to ensure he had all relevant information before making an obviously contentious decision.

National have called for the Minister to resign over this, but I think that’s a silly overreach. This looks more like a stuff up than anything like a sackable offence. Perhaps sloppy, but probably not a misuse of ministerial powers.

So Lees-Galloway should learn a lesson from this and be a more careful minister in the future.

This is a bit of a blow to Government credibility, but probably isn’t a major. However it reinforces National’s campaign that keeps claiming the Government is soft on criminals.

Gayford could become a PR liability for Ardern

Apparently operating outside the Prime Ministerial PR loop Clark Gayford could become a PR liability for Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern’s partner Gayford and her baby Neve have been an asset to her image, but Gayford keeps intruding on her job. He gets himself involved in Ardern’s political life and this could cause her some problems.

It has already come up, like this in September:  Jacinda Ardern should tell Clarke Gayford she ‘fights her own battles’

PR expert Trish Sherson says the Prime Minister’s partner should take a step back from defending her online, after he weighed in on a debate over her cancelling TV interviews in the weekend.

Former Three producer Tim Watkin tweeted about Ms Ardern pulling out of Newshub Nation on Saturday and TVNZ’s Q&A on Sunday.

It seemed odd that Gayford would get involved in matters involving the Prime Minister’s diary. She has staff for that.

Ms Ardern’s chief press secretary said the Prime Minister would not be appearing on Newshub Nation because he got the date of the interview wrong.

“If I were Jacinda I’d be saying ‘hey mate, I fight my own battles,'” Ms Sherson said on The AM Show, and host Duncan Garner agreed.

However after the UN trip:

Yesterday Gayford tweeted:

I think that reminding everyone that Peters played and manipulated Ardern, Labour and the media for his own aggrandising is embarrassing for Ardern and Labour.

It is remarkable that Peters made the important job of forming a new government all about him and his attention seeking, at the expense of Ardern and Labour in particular (and also the sidelined Greens).

A sensible way of announcing a new three party government would be including all three parties in the announcement rather than pandering to Winston’s whims and ego.

Showing how dependant Ardern is on what Winston wants and says is not good PR for Labour.

How many PR staff does Ardern have? I am sure they are under instructions to carefully convey the right images and messages for Ardern.

But Gayford may be operating outside this carefully manicured media movement. He seems to like attracting attention to himself as well as trying to promote Ardern, but I don’t think this is helping her. He is a risk and could be a liability.

Perhaps Gayford should stick to the Women’s Weekly sort of stuff and leave the serious business of running the country and running the Prime Minister PR to Ardern and her substantial team.