Dame Silvia Cartwright to replace Graham Kelly
Dame Silvia Cartwright to replace Graham Kelly in Canadahttp://www.transtasman.co.nz/
Dame Silvia Cartwright will replace Graham Kelly, New Zealand’s High Commissioner in Canada, when her term at Government House finishes next April, according to political newsletter Trans-Tasman.
In the lead story of its June 16 edition that will be published this afternoon, Trans-Tasman says that Dame Silvia has been looking for a diplomatic post for some time, but with neither New York nor Washington being available, she has recently been offered Canada.
Max Bowden, editor-in chief of Trans-Tasman, said that the heat has come on the Government in recent days after Kelly’s offensive remarks were made public.
“What has surprised us most is the length of time it has taken for this story to surface. Politicians and senior Government officials have known of this since mid April.
“We found the comments buried in the Canadian equivalent of Hansard and published it in our June 9 edition. One wonders what would have happened had the comments never been brought to public attention?” he said.
Trans-Tasman first noted Dame Silvia’s keenness for an overseas posting in its March 17 edition.
“We have been watching the Dame Silvia situation for some time so it comes as no surprise that she has been offered Canada. Originally she was keen on a United Nations posting or the like but there were some in the Beehive who thought this position was better suited to a more hard-headed career ambassador ,” Max Bowden said.
Trans-Tasman has broken several other stories of late, the other most notable being Ralph Norris leaving Air New Zealand, which was on Trans-Tasman’s web site as early as May 26.
As the Kelly Canadian saga gathers momentum, Trans-Tasman can reveal Labour has already made plans to replace him with Dame Silvia Cartwright, who is due to finish her term at Govt House next year. The March 17 Trans-Tasman reported Govt insiders as believing she wanted a diplomatic post, but neither New York nor Washington would be available.
Meanwhile calls for the Govt to sack Graham Kelly mounted as Opposition parties made political capital out of the “offensive” comments (first disclosed in this country by Trans-Tasman last week) Kelly delivered to a Canadian Parliamentary Committee. The Govt rebuffed those calls, but says Kelly is “on notice.”
Criticism of Kelly’s diplomatic gaffe ranged from the PM’s “inappropriate” to Tariana Turia’s “extremely offensive.”
The Greens’ Metiria Turei said it was not good enough for Kelly to hide behind MFAT and the Foreign Minister, and apologise via a press release: he should come and meet ethnic communities, hold meetings on marae, and front up to Pacific Island communities to “explain himself.”
National’s Pansy Wong believes Kelly should step down, saying he can’t represent NZ if he voices racist opinions and alienates Asian NZers.
Foreign Minister Phil Goff says he got an explanation from Kelly during a visit to Ottawa this month.
Rejecting demands Kelly be recalled, Goff asserted the comments had been out of character: they had been meant to be “lighthearted, but failed in that endeavour.”
Goff added: “If he had not been doing a good job as High Commissioner, if he had not shown the energy and enthusiasm for representing NZ, we would look at this option.” This is not the first time he has had to be reminded what the role of a NZ diplomatic representative abroad entails.
For the Govt, the embarrassment adds to the series of cock-ups and snafus it has experienced in recent months, calling into question its competency in political management.