www.mccully.co.nz - 15 December 2006
www.mccully.co.nz- 15 December
A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays
UN Continues to Use Mutinous Forces
As the prospect of a coup in Fiji increased, some colourful words were said by our Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. There would, they said, be serious consequences for Fiji, and the Fijian military in particular, if the army unseated the duly elected government of Laisenia Qarase. Two sets of sanctions have been announced, including the expected travel restrictions for senior military officers. But the most important, and most blindingly obvious sanctions have still not been put in place. Members of the mutinous Fiji military continue to serve in various United Nations deployments around the world.
Currently, 223 Fiji army personnel serve in Iraq as part of the UNAMI deployment. Substantial funds flow to the Fiji economy and the Fiji military in particular, as a consequence of this arrangement. A further 8 Fiji army personnel are serving in Sudan and two in Timor Leste in UN deployments. And 329 Fijian troops serve as part of the MFO observer force, not under UN command, in the Sinai. All of them should be sent home forthwith.
Let’s be very clear about this: The Fijian armed forces under Commodore Bainimarama have just overthrown the democratically elected government of Fiji. It was done in cold blood and with premeditation. This was an act of mutiny. And there can be no place for mutinous army personnel who, by definition do not recognise lawful authority, on any United Nations deployment, especially one focused on peace-keeping and the maintenance of law and order.
Currently 30 Fiji Police officers are on UN duty in Liberia, and 7 in the Sudan. A purist might argue that they too should be returned home to their wayward state. That would be a tough call. Clearly, the Fiji Police are victims of the tragedy in their country, and their position is quite different from that of their military colleagues.
The United Nations has already been guilty of indecent delay in this matter. The continued use of military personnel from a mutinous force is both untenable and unprincipled. The ongoing UN funding of the Fiji army runs directly counter to the objectives of the sanctions already put in place. And it’s time Helen Clark and Winston Peters now did something to translate their earlier tough words into resolute action.
The 2006 Parliamentary year drifted to a conclusion this week. More with a whimper than a bang. Tired gallery hacks have been struggling to maintain a sense of focus for weeks. And their Parliamentary victims have portrayed a sense of realisation that the year has run its course. 2006 has been a most eventful year in New Zealand politics.
While important battles remain to be fought in the New Year, there are early signs of a significant shift in New Zealand politics. There is one word to characterise the modus operandi of the Clark Government; cynicism. It was that cynicism that drove the attempted white-wash that was the Ingram inquiry into Taito Phillip Field. And the attempt over some months to brazen their way through the pledge card debacle. It is cynicism that sees the Clark Government roll out "top half of the OECD" and "first carbon neutral nation in the world" type commitments, knowing they have absolutely no intention of making good on any of it. That cynicism is borne of a deep disrespect for the New Zealand public. And by the end of 2006, there are growing signs that the New Zealand public is beginning to reciprocate.
By contrast, the National Party has emerged from a post-election year - the most difficult for an opposition - with a leadership transition tidily completed, ahead in the polls, and showing the sort of cohesion that characterises credible alternative governments. A good start. But a demanding and truly defining year lies ahead.
So here from the worldwide headquarters of mccully.co are a few of the winners and losers from 2006:
The White Flag Award for Ignominious Defeat
Joint winners in this category:
Prime Minister Helen Clark for her foolish decision to tough it out over the pledge card fiasco, only to finally accept defeat, but refuse to apologise, then commit to paying the money back whilst putting in place a mechanism to ensure that no one will ever find out if she does.
And Prime Minister Helen Clark for her decision to tough out the Taito Phillip Field affair, run a white-wash Ingram inquiry, but finally accept defeat and seek refuge in a Police inquiry and suspension of Field from parliamentary duties.
The Best Kept Secret Award
Goes to TVNZ. Hasn’t anyone been wondering just what happened to that Colmar Brunton poll that was due about three weeks ago.
The Heineken Award for Diplomacy
Saw a clear runaway winner in Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard who managed to insult the ARC and Auckland City Council sufficiently for them to turn down a $200 million gift for a waterfront stadium, pronounced the one third of New Zealand voters who live in Auckland visionless, and spent several weeks attacking and undermining the Eden Park trustees who are now his partners in delivering a World Cup venue. An all round, comprehensive performance.
The Victim of the Year Award
Goes, surprisingly for some, to Health Minister Pete Hodgson. The self-styled Labour strategist was put into the Health portfolio to tidy up after the very limited Annette King, but, instead has been comprehensively dismantled by National’s Tony Ryall during 2006.
The Bungler of the Year Award
Has actually been earned by Annette King over several years. The trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods regime should be an important part of our CER architecture. But Annette King negotiated a Treaty with a number of fatal flaws, without turning her mind to whether she could get the numbers to pass it. Opposition from other parties in the select committee, bolstered by minority reports, didn’t deter her. She blundered on refusing to consult. And this week she introduced a watered down Bill which only survived a first reading courtesy of Winston Peters and NZ First, who will now rightly be savaged by those they had previously assured they would stop the King proposal. In short, the textbook case as to how NOT to negotiate a CER agreement.
The Caught Red-Handed Award for 2006
Must go to former TVNZ chairman Craig Boyce whose emails, released under the Official Information Act, referred to MP’s as "bastards" and disclosed plans to mislead a select committee over a damaging boardroom dispute, all of which led to his abrupt resignation.
The Not Caught Red-Handed Award
Goes to Labour Party flunky Dame Anne Hercus who would have been caught red-handed if she had attended a select committee hearing but instead resigned as a director of TVNZ on the day the committee had been hoping to interrogate her.
The Sir Geoffery Palmer Award for Constitutional Rectitude
Goes to Conservation Minister Chris Carter. First, an Auditor General’s report found that the largest landowner in the country was in breach of most of its statutory obligations under both the National Parks Act and the Conservation Act, and that DOC doesn’t know what it owns, why it owns it, or when it acquired it, and that DOC routinely breaches its own rules when buying or selling land. Then the High Court found that Carter had acted outside his Ministerial powers in overturning an Environment Court decision over the proposed Whangamata Marina and ordered that the matter go back to the Minister to be dealt with properly and lawfully this time. Such was the government’s confidence in Carter to do so that the whole matter has now been delegated to another Minister to complete.
The worldwide headquarters of mccully.co will be closed briefly over the festive season. Thanks for your interest during 2006. Best wishes for the Christmas break and for 2007.