We’ve sent our gunboat and caught fishing felons red-handed – now let’s sink them

January 13, 2015
Oops. Shouldn't Hitler's permission been sought?

Oops. Did Hitler give his approval?

Dunno why Royal New Zealand Navy officials have got to be so damned prissy.

According to the NZ Herald, last night they were seeking permission to board two fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean which have been found with illegal catches.

The offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington has been monitoring the ships, Songhua and Kunlun, for close to a week and has captured video evidence of fishermen hauling in Antarctic toothfish – one of the most lucrative catches in the world.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the vessels were using gill nets, which were banned in the strictly regulated fishery around Antarctica because they were considered damaging to the marine ecosystem.

So – a fair cop, by the sounds of it.

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A diplomatic response to Terence O’Brien would be to tell him Murray has the whip hand

November 27, 2014
If we did win the next election, which one of us would be Minister of Foreign Affairs?

If we did win the next election, which one of us would be Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Alf has politely (as always) declined a nice offer made by his mate Murray McCully.

The offer was that he should step into the shoes of John Allen, who has quit as boss of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to take up a position with the New Zealand Racing Board.

Well, perhaps it wasn’t a firm offer, to be honest. He was testing the waters, so to speak, and trying to ascertain Alf’s interest.

But Alf has no urge to stop representing the interests of the good people of Eketahuna North and will be sticking to his job here on the National back benches , where there is always the prospect of a long-overdue promotion to a ministerial job.

Mind you, the report this week that gave Crusher Collins a clean bill of health means she may well be higher up in the queue than he is.

More important, however, Murray’s chat with Alf somewhat scuttles the hopes of Terence O’Brien, the former New Zealand ambassador to the UN and a senior fellow at the Victoria University Centre for Strategic Studies.

Radio NZ reported him as saying Murray must accept that only a top-ranking experienced diplomat can head New Zealand’s new role at the UN Security Council.

Mr Allen’s controversial appointment in 2009 as the first non-diplomatic post to take up the top job was designed to promote New Zealand interests to the world and reinvigorate a diplomatic service marred by complacency.

Mr O’Brien said it had been five years of revolutionary change within MFAT but it was time for a chief executive with considerable diplomatic experience

“It would be timely to revert now to appointing a seasoned professional, particularly in the next two years.

“The burden of the Security Council membership is going to require leadership from the top.”

Beyond that, Radio NZ essentially provided O’Brien with a platform from which to be bitchy.

O’Brien said Allen has fulfilled Murray’s  plan to corporatise the diplomatic service, changing the job of diplomat, which has created silos and forced the departure of experienced diplomats.

But he said this approach was rejected in several countries and it should not have been attempted in New Zealand, though it could not yet be called a complete failure.

“They detracted from MFAT’s performance particularly over the question of career opportunities; a system that he introduced has made career opportunities at the top a somewhat uncertain business.”

Radio NZ also gave David Shearer the chance to remind us of his existence somewhere around No 14 or 15 in the Labour batting order.

Labour’s foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer said many experienced highly-skilled diplomats left the service in mid-career, because their job security was stripped away.

“Much of that was ordered by Murray McCully. It was carried out by John Allen. John Allen was left hanging out to dry by Murray McCully, who put the blame on him, unfairly in many cases, I believe.”
Mr Allen has had to apologise to Mr McCully for the badly-handled Malaysian diplomat case earlier this year, something Mr Shearer said highlighted significant failings.
“John Allen was completely oblivious to what was actually going on in his own ministry. McCully didn’t even ask about the situation.
“We’ll see more of those sorts of issues but more importantly we we’ll see a decline in quality, so it won’t be completely measurable but it won’t stand New Zealand in good stead.”

But Murray was having none of that pap and said MFAT was now in a strong position to capitalise on the opportunities presented by New Zealand’s term on the UN Security Council, and to meet other challenges.

“Under Mr Allen’s guidance, the Ministry has realigned New Zealand’s aid programme to ensure we are making a tangible difference in our region, continue to push for free and open trade, and managed our campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”

So why should Allen want to bugger off from the MFAT job?

Besides getting away from a job in which he is constantly exposed to carping from Opposition politicians, Allen will get a pay rise.

He gave up a million-dollar salary at New Zealand Post when he took up the MFAT job, slicing his income in half.

The top pay band at the Racing Board – according to the Radio NZ report – is currently $960,000-$970,000.

Oh, and another thing.

The racing industry deals with galloping thoroughbreds. They won’t express any disgruntlement in the same way as Labour’s braying donkeys.

 

 

 


Murray McCully’s meddling at MFAT – might it bring about his ministerial demise?

March 22, 2012

Bugger.

It looks like your hard-working MP will have to wait to see if his formidable talents are appropriately recognised by The Boss with a long-overdue promotion.

That howz-yer-father about the ACC and the Pullar woman culminated in Nick Smith’s resignation from his ministerial portfolios.

Great (although Alf is not publicly displaying his approval).

Trouble is, Nick’s ministerial jobs have been given to others, at least for now.

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Don’t worry if McCully has disappeared, Boss – we can suggest an admirable replacement

February 27, 2012

Alf reckons he saw McCully head off in that direction...


Dunno what The Boss thinks about a Minister with an aversion to answering questions.

Or a Minister – more to the point – whose current whereabouts are unknown, except that he is “in the media”.

Alf accordingly senses an opportunity to get himself a Cabinet job at long last, and has let The Boss know of his willingness (a) to take over Foreign Affairs; and (b) front up to the news media to explain MFAT job cuts, our position on Syria and so on.

Immediately, it’s fair to say, The Boss seems disinclined to take advantage of his hard-working Eketahuna North MP’s willingness to do what Murray McCully won’t do, which is explain what’s doing.

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Now that Mfat is getting an organisational tummy tuck, what will we finish up with?

February 24, 2012

So our foreign service will be reduced to this.


There’s lots of angst and apprehension on Wellington’s Lambton Quay after the unveiling of plans to close embassies, lay off hundreds of staff and outsource consular hotlines for distressed New Zealanders overseas.

The Herald describes this overhaul today as part of a proposed radical overhaul of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat).

And a further round of job cuts is looming, on top of yesterday’s confirmation that the axe is hovering over 305 jobs, including diplomatic and policy positions.

Mfat chief executive John Allen announced proposed changes that would see 169 ministry staff culled in New Zealand and overseas, as well as 136 locally-engaged staff.

That means the loss of 21 per cent of the ministry’s 1421 staff, in one of several changes that Mr Allen said would transform the ministry into a flexible organisation with improved expertise.

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The Embassy Winston set up may be closed – so who will sound a warning against ticks?

January 10, 2012

We should not be surprised hear Winston Peters bleating about the planned Foreign Affairs job losses and the closure of overseas posts.

He’s strong on spending public money but Alf can’t recall him being too strong on finding ways of making savings.

The job cuts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were portended in a State Services Commission report last year. The ministry was looking at slashing 200 jobs out of almost 1000, it said.

The newspapers today are saying an announcement on the details is expected soon.

That’s given Peters a platform for prattling about the implications, although Peters has a knack for turning anything into a platform for prattling.
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Sorry, Sharon, but taxpayers would rather not cough up to fly your relatives to Argentina

May 4, 2011

Maybe she would have been more wary if she had been asked to wear this.


Oh dear. The cash-strapped Government – borrowing $250 million a week for each of us to pay back some time – isn’t throwing the stuff around as generously as some people would like.

In particular it won’t come up with the dosh to ensure the “aunty” of an incredibly stupid woman can fly at public expense to Argentina.

The aforementioned incredibly stupid woman is drug-trafficking accused Sharon Armstrong.

Alf, who is a sensitive soul, would not normally belittle people by calling them stupid, let alone incredibly stupid, unless they support the Labour or Green parties.

In this case he makes an exception because he is talking about a self-confessed incredibly stupid person.

She is the 54-year-old former Maori Language Commission deputy chief executive who was arrested on April 13 after Buenos Aires Airport police found (or claim they found) 5kg of cocaine hidden in her suitcase.

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