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The Right Talk - 7 March 2003

The Right Talk - 7 March 2003

7 March 2003

The Howard Visit - Papering Over the Cracks

The Howard visit will be more about what is not said than what is said. New Zealand and Australia have parted ways over the Iraqi war. NZ is against a second resolution in the UN; Australia favours it. National is backing the Australian position. Added to this are deepening differences between Helen Clark and John Howard over the relationship with the US in defence and trade. All the smiles will not make up for the growing strategic rift. Howard is the most New Zealand-friendly of Australian politicians. I have had the benefit of sound political advice from him, and I expect to get more at our meeting on Monday.

Breakdancing on the Head of a Pin

Labour's economic goal of reaching the top half of the OECD in per capita income by 2011 has appeared all through speeches and documents over the past three years. Last week Helen Clark abandoned it as "totally unrealistic". Here are the explanations Clark and Cullen gave in the House (this is for real).

* The goal was 'informal' (in 2001 it was in the PM's annual Statement to the House, which is required by standing orders - very informal)

* The document including the 'formal' goal didn't include the 2011 date (it included a large graph setting out the goal, including the date)

* Graphs setting out the goal are different from text and ministers only approved text (Helen Clark signed the foreword)

* Helen Clark didn't set the goal, others talked about it and she repeated it (over and over, as did ministers and officials)

* Text signed by the PM was written by someone else

So there we have it - the Government hasn't given the goal away, because it never existed. Less sophisticated people call this lying.

Iraqi Views of Saddam

Congratulations to the New Zealand Herald (?) for having an open enough mind to balance the anti Americanism and peace group moralising that's dominating local media coverage of the Iraqi war. They ran an article by Ramos Horta, a leading politician in East Timor, who said the Americans will liberate Iraqis from a regime of terror. International media report some Iraqis - who want an end to the permanent state of war under Saddam - hope the Americans will follow through.

Two Treaties or Two Versions of One Treaty

There are two versions of the Treaty - one in Maori and one in English. Dr Cullen said last week that the Government regards the Maori version of the Treaty as the basis of policy. National believes that the English version carries the same weight as the Maori. Discussion about what the Treaty means has become a private conversation between the Crown and Maori. But the Crown is all the people, and too many people have not had a say.


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