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Cablegate: New Government Promises Ambition

VZCZCXRO2153
RR RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHWL #0409/01 3442017
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 092017Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5571
INFO RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND 1810
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 5346
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0776
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000409

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR STATE FOR EAP/ANP
PACOM FOR J01E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON PHUM KDEM NZ
SUBJECT: NEW GOVERNMENT PROMISES AMBITION

WELLINGTON 00000409 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. As the new Parliament opened December 9, the new
National-led Government laid out its program for the next three
years along lines familiar from its election campaign. Prime
Minister John Key's immediate priorities are to address the pressing
economic challenges facing New Zealand; in the longer term he will
seek to rebuild infrastructure and productivity to enable growth and
prosperity in the future. It reflects many of the traits that
voters found so attractive in Key at the election: moderation,
ambition, compassion and understanding. It will be hard for the
opposition Labour Party to successfully attack this program. End
Summary.

Government Program Outlined
---------------------------
2. (SBU) On December 9, Governor-General Anand Satyanand opened the
49th New Zealand Parliament with the traditional 'Speech from the
Throne' by where he outlined the program of the new Government under
Prime Minister John Key. The government divided its objectives into
two parts: fixing the immediate economic problems facing New
Zealand; and rebuilding infrastructure and increasing productivity
in the longer term to make New Zealanders more prosperous.
Foreign Policy Features Only Lightly
------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The Government reaffirmed it will essentially continue the
foreign and trade policy of the previous government. In the speech
it was stated that the "Government will ensure that New Zealand
exercises a free, independent foreign policy that reflects the best
interests of New Zealand. It will have a bipartisan approach to
foreign policy and it will be driven by a considered evaluation of
New Zealand's evolving international interests. This will include
an ongoing commitment to trade liberalization and the pursuit of
bilateral, regional and world-wide free trade agreements." (Comment:
commentators will likely jump on the Government's promise of an
"independent foreign policy" since that was Labour's code word for a
policy which stayed at arms length from the U.S. End Comment.)

No More Missed Opportunities
----------------------------
4. (SBU) In a dig at the previous Labour-led government, Key
asserted that "if New Zealand's past ten years were to be described
as the decade of missed opportunities, then the next ten years must
be the decade of maximized opportunities." He warned that the
Government will run an operating deficit certainly in the short-term
and most likely in the long-term as well. To provide much-needed
fiscal stimulus to the flagging economy, the Government will reduce
personal taxes. To increase productivity and growth investment in
infrastructure will be increased. This will include an accelerated
roll-out of an ultra-fast broadband network across New Zealand. In
a conscious gesture to Labour's constituency, the Government
emphasized that New Zealand is a country built on a sense of
fairness and thus it will duly provide an assistance package to
those worst hit by redundancy.
Tightening Government Spending
------------------------------
5. (SBU) In a drive for efficiency and fiscal discipline in the
public sector, which PM Key believes the previous government failed
to exercise, the new Government will carefully examine public
spending and halt the growth in government bureaucracy ( Note. The
MFAT briefing paper for Foreign Minister McCully, also released
December 9, made it clear that this will freezing include the
planned expansion in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. End
Note).
Climate Change
--------------
6. (SBU) The Government promised to honor New Zealand's existing
Kyoto Protocol obligations and to work toward further global
alliances to advance the Kyoto agenda. In approaching future
international climate change negotiations the Government intends to
work with other countries to find a pragmatic way to include large
emitters, of which the Government signaled out China, India, Brazil
and the United States. However, the government has pledged to
review the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to "ensure the reduction
of emissions in ways that result in the least cost to New Zealand's
society and economy." Additionally, the Government intends to
advocate firmly in international negotiations for the appropriate
recognition of New Zealand's unique agricultural-emissions-profile.
Comment: Ambition, Pragmatism, Compassion Hold Forth
--------------------------------------------- -------

7. (SBU) The Government's program was a compilation of National's
campaign promises combined with its response to the worsening
economic downturn. The speech blended ambition as to the
possibilities that lay ahead and sobriety as to the challenges
confronting the country. A central message in the speech was that
the new Government will drive an ambitious agenda.

WELLINGTON 00000409 002.2 OF 002


8. (SBU) As one might expect, Key's program contained more
specifics on the near-term plans to revive the economy and fewer
details on the longer-term goals. It epitomized the personal
politics of John Key: pragmatic and moderate. The call for
individual responsibility and the promise to help the most
vulnerable citizens is a typical Key balancing act. It will be
difficult for Labour to challenge Key's ambitions, so they will be
left to watch eagerly for the Government's performance to fall
short. End Comment.
McCormick

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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