New Zealand should sustain a suitably detached
policy position over present NATO-Russia---
“ We do not have a dog in the fight...”
Five questions for ex United Nations Security Council President Terence O’Brien.
MSCNewswire/National Press Club/EIN service/ Monday 27 March 2017||Few practitioners from any nation have enjoyed quite such an extended career at the heart of the global firmament as British-born diplomat Terence O’Brien (above). He was president of the Security Council of United Nations during the Balkans conflict. He was one of the principal access negotiators on behalf of New Zealand when Britain originally entered the European Common Market. He has occupied posts in London, Brussels, Bangkok and Geneva. He was the founding director of the Institute of Strategic Studies.
You have been an outspoken opponent of mixing trade with foreign affairs?
This is not strictly accurate. I take issue rather with the jargon that “all New Zealand foreign policy is trade” which is a holdover from earlier times and reflected today in a sense promoted by some New Zealand leaders, that NZ’s success and place in the world is to be judged primarily by the number of Free Trade Agreements that it is able to secure.
NZ’s modern experience especially in respect to emergent Asia proves emphatically that successful trade arrangements depend firstly and vitally upon sound political and diplomatic relationships (China is a prime but by no means solitary example). NZ’s accomplishments in Asia and indeed elsewhere rely in other words, upon earned trust with other governments. Fostering that trust is a political/diplomatic responsibility.
Predictable trade relationships require a great deal more than nimble private sector commercial skills- although those are indispensable of course to overall success and the New Zealand private sector plus NZ primary producer groups have been notably effective in this regard.
To what extent do you view the recent NZ sponsorship of the UN Israel censure as a development of this blend?
There may have been in the minds of some on the NZ side, the thought that sponsorship might earn credits in some Gulf States where NZ seeks to formalise free trade arrangements; but around the UNSC table there is genuine concern about the danger for the future of ‘two state solution’ to the Israel/Palestine conflict ,that has been the long established diplomatic basis for eventual peace. The present Israeli government appears openly to resile from this formula as it continues resolutely to expand Jewish settlements on the West Bank, a practice deplored by the UN Security Council. From the moment it gained a place on the 2015-16 UNSC NZ committed itself to contributing to the search for progress on this key issue. Co-sponsorship of the eventual UNSC resolution which calls as well for Palestinians to desist from provocation and terrorism, was the logical consequence.
Looking back on your days as a dairy sector negotiator during Britain’s entry into the Common Market, how do you view Brexit now in terms of NZ diplomacy and trade?
From the perspective of a small, distant but companionable partner of Europe, Brexit appears to be a mistake. It comes too at a time when conservative populism is on the rise within Europe with the emergence of right wing nationalist political groups in several countries. Twentieth century experiences of European mistakes and miscalculations and their devastating global consequences, not once but twice, are not to be overlooked.
British entry into Europe was a taxing experience for NZ. The deals struck for safeguarding NZ trade interests represented a stay of execution rather than reprieve for this country . Within relatively short periods of negotiated transition the New Zealand farm economy was obliged to diversify production and markets. That process drove foreign policy extending NZ political and diplomatic interests to a wide range of new partners (in the Middle East, Communist Europe, Latin America and, most notably Asia) . It consolidated NZ as a genuine world trader with global interests. Global interests are inextricably bound up with global responsibilities even for small countries, and require contributions to global wellbeing and stability.
The process deepened NZ support for international rules based behaviour particularly in trade but also in directly related areas such as peace and security, freedom for transport and navigation, responsible behaviour in global environmental and resource protection and so forth. Because of the very nature of its own being the European Union (EU) has been a notable champion of an international rules based system. But the fact of BREXIT places a question mark over how influential a collective European voice will now be in the future. At a time when American commitment to global rules is questionable under a new inexperienced President Trump, the need for sustained collective European support for the system has never been greater. The foreseeable future suggests that New Zealand will crucially need the courage of its convictions.
How do you feel about the Helen Clark bid to be the UN Secretary General especially in regard to her role as an officer of the UN at the time?
The selection process for a new UN Secretary General in 2016 sought to break new ground - which is always difficult in the UN. Formal candidatures backed by governments and involving public job interviews were decreed for the first time in 70 years. Hitherto candidatures had been exclusively personal affairs and selection decided behind tightly held UN Security Council doors where the votes of the five permanent Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) were decisive. This time a new approach was defined in the interests of greater transparency and democracy in the selection process. It is stretching things somewhat to suggest those goals were achieved.
There was a general sentiment beforehand that the new appointee should be from Eastern Europe (which has never supplied a UN Secretary General ) and also be female (which would be a first). In the event neither aspiration prevailed and the choice, of a Portuguese male, was once again taken behind closed doors at the UNSC.
Helen Clark was a creditable candidate and the NZ government campaigned for her, but her success depended first and foremost upon her own efforts. She came as a candidate from within the ranks of the UN itself, but this is not without precedent (Kofi Annan one the most effective SGs, was a UN Secretariat employee). As head of the UN’s largest aid institution she was well known across a very wide number of UN member countries ( especially developing countries).The reasons for her lack of success will probably never be known in full. Her relatively poor showing in the straw polling of UN member countries before the final appointment, was an undeniable disappointment. The most that can be said is that she was a serious contender; and NZ can take some consolation from that.
What are your views on Russia and NZ’s participation in the US-EU trade embargo?
With Russia and NATO we are reaping what was sown. At the end of the Cold War there was an opportunity for the Americans and Europeans to consolidate a cooperative inclusive (of Russia) security system for a post CW Europe. The Soviet led Warsaw Pact subsided into oblivion which is what military alliances historically do when conflicts end, and/or the reason for their existence disappears. NATO in direct contrast did not. It was enlarged with new members, new bases installed and its boundaries extended into Russia’s borderlands - which for the US anyway potentially included Ukraine. But who was the adversary? An enfeebled Russia could do nothing but (as George Kennan amongst others warned) one could not rule out economic recovery by Russia and new leadership that objected to NATO expansion (which included into the affairs of the Middle East) and would push back. Enter Mr Putin, and so it has come to pass. His preemptive seizure of Crimea (where the Russian fleet has had a base for two centuries or so) is contrary to the international rule of law - but hardly surprising in the wake of western foolhardiness.
NZ should sustain a suitably detached policy position over present NATO-Russia. We do not have a dog in the fight. Russia does not threaten the US although Putin clearly intends that Russia be assertive and taken seriously internationally. Russian interference in the US electoral process may or may not have occurred. If it is proven Russians would presumably point to equivalent American policies in the name of “spreading democracy” in Russia ,its satellites, and including Ukraine. They are, on both sides, ‘pots calling kettles black’
Don Brash to take Hobson's Pledge
into General Election---says
Ordinary People Fear Speaking Out
on accelerating Separatism
MSC Newswire - National Press Club service - Napier, Friday 3 March 2017 | Nobody today in so many different roles and for quite so long has stood at the centre of public life so enduringly as Don Brash. Economist, businessman, banker, politician, the former Governor of the Reserve Bank and leader of the National Party has defied typecasting. At one and the same time severe yet extravagant, austere yet colourful, scholarly yet populist, he has contrived always to reconfigure himself around the times. Now he has stridently intervened in institutionally-fuelled separatism. Shrouded in a protective veneer of high-minded fashionable purpose that makes ordinary people fearful to question it, Dr Brash vehemently, unequivocally declares the voguish syndrome as ultimately destined to tear the nation apart......
You are often considered to be at heart primarily concerned with matters economic and their corresponding data. Yet here you are now immersing yourself in what many might consider a socio-ethical issue?
Yes, most of my career has been about monetary policy, banking, and economic issues more generally. But my interest in economics has always been because of my interest in the well-being of society more generally. I have long felt, for example, that it will be difficult or impossible to maintain a broadly egalitarian society in New Zealand – the kind of society in which I was brought up – if average living standards fall too far below those in Australia because of the ease with which skilled New Zealanders can cross the Tasman for very much higher incomes in Sydney or Melbourne.
If we want the kind of healthcare which those in advanced developed countries take for granted, we have to have the living standards to support that healthcare. A few years ago, there was a big debate about whether Pharmac should subsidize the provision of Herceptin for the treatment of certain kinds of breast cancer, and it was noted that Australia did so. The fact of the matter was that at that time virtually all the countries which subsidized access to Herceptin had higher living standards than New Zealand did; those which did not provide a subsidy, had lower living standards – we were right on the cusp. For me, interest in economics has always been about the implications of economic policy for the well-being of society.
Hence, I was strongly opposed to inflation in part at least because of the totally capricious effects which inflation has on wealth distribution – those who save in fixed interest instruments being thoroughly gutted by inflation, while those who borrow heavily to invest in, say, property, make huge and totally untaxed gains with little or no effort. That has always seemed to me to be grossly unjust.
Will the Hobson’s Pledge Movement become a force in the pending general election?
I certainly hope so. I find it very depressing that the National Party has moved such a long way from its roots in this policy area. In 2002, Bill English gave a lengthy and very thoughtful speech, demonstrating clearly that Maori chiefs had ceded sovereignty in signing the Treaty and arguing that the only way for a peaceful future for New Zealand was a “single standard of citizenship for all”.
In May 2003, he pledged that a future National Government would scrap separate Maori electorates, as the Royal Commission on the Electoral System had recommended in the late eighties if MMP were adopted. I made similar commitments when I was Leader of the National Party, as did John Key in the election campaign of 2008. And yet we’ve seen the National-led Government retreat a very long way from that position.
I applaud the fact that the current Government has accelerated the resolution of historical grievances, but utterly deplore the fact that too often resolution has involved not just financial redress but also “co-governance”.
We see the proposed amendment to the RMA requiring all local councils to invite their local tribes into so-called “iwi participation agreements”, involving co-governance on a grand scale. We saw the legislation establishing the Auckland super-city requiring an Independent Maori Statutory Board, with the Auckland Council giving members of that unelected Board voting rights on most Auckland Council committees.
We see the Government negotiating behind closed doors with the so-called Iwi Leaders Group to give tribes some form of special influence over the allocation of water, despite pretending to believe that “nobody owns water”. We see a proposal to make half the members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum tribal appointees.
The myth that the Treaty of Waitangi created some kind of “partnership” between Maori on the one hand (or more accurately, those who can claim at least one Maori ancestor, always now along with ancestors of other ethnicities) and the rest of us on the other is increasingly accepted as Holy Writ, subscribing to which is becoming essential for many positions in the public sector.
So I’m very much hoping that Hobson’s Pledge can help to substantially reverse this highly undemocratic drift after the next election.
You say that the National government is “pandering” to “separatist demands.” Which of these demands do you consider the most dangerous?
Where do I start? I’ve just listed some of the specific policies which are totally inconsistent with any reasonable definition of democracy. Most of those specific policies stem from the underlying myth that the Treaty established some kind of “partnership” between those with a Maori ancestor and those of us without, as I’ve just mentioned. But as David Lange said in the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in 2000, “the Court of Appeal once, absurdly, described [the Treaty] as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The Treaty itself contains no principles which can usefully guide government or courts.... To go further than that is to acknowledge the existence of undemocratic forms of rights, entitlements, or sovereignty.”
All the specific examples I gave in answer to the previous question stem from the underlying nonsense that there are two (and only two!) distinct groups of New Zealanders, those with preferential constitutional rights and those without them. This is leading New Zealand to disaster with a whole generation of part-Maori believing that they really do have superior constitutional rights to the rest of us.
To what degree would you ascribe this separatist development agitation as being primarily a project of the political class from whatever background?
Certainly, I think what you call the “political class” is the main driver of this separatist agitation, together with arguably most of the educational establishment, where adherence to so-called “Treaty principles” seems to be an absolute prerequisite for appointment to any teaching or leadership position.
The same is true in the public healthcare sector. But there is plenty of evidence that large numbers of the “general public” do not support the separatist agenda but are literally cowed into silence on the issue.
I regularly get people sidle up to me in the street and, after looking furtively up and down the street lest they are recognized by friends or acquaintances, tell me that they strongly agree with me. One university professor did this recently, but swore me not to mention his name or university department. And some of these people are Maori.
Of course, Hobson’s Pledge has two official spokespeople, one of whom is me and the other is Casey Costello, a woman of Ngapuhi and Anglo-Irish ancestry. But two of our very strongest supporters (though not members of our council) are Maori – one a prominent member of the Ngapuhi tribe and the other Ngati Porou.
The latter was a member of our council when we first established Hobson’s Pledge but, because he is closely associated with a political party, withdrew lest his membership of Hobson’s Pledge raise a question about whether we are a front for the political party he is closely associated with.
He resents the separatist agenda because he believes strongly that it is patronizing, implying that Maori aren’t quite good enough to make it successfully without these constitutional preferences.
Bearing in mind your underpinning career in banking, economics and looking now at the broader picture: where is the country now in your view in terms of nuts and bolts things such as balance of payments and foreign debt?
Compared with some other countries, we are in a good spot, with the economy growing, unemployment fairly low and government debt modest relative to GDP. Our banking sector is in reasonable shape. Even the extent of the country’s (public and private sector) total net external indebtedness is somewhat better than it was a decade ago, though still high by developed country standards.
But there are significant problems just below the surface of that apparently rosy picture. Yes, the economy is growing, but that is largely because the number of people in the workforce is growing strongly because of a high level of net immigration: productivity, and thus per capita income, is growing very slowly indeed, and the Government’s initial objective of closing the income gap with Australia by 2025 is not only not going to be achieved, the gap hasn’t reduced materially over the last eight years.
The ratio of government debt to GDP is modest by the standards of many other developed countries, but the Key Government did absolutely nothing to prepare the population for the need to adjust, for example, the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation if government debt is not to explode, relative to GDP, over the next few decades. (Mr English, to his credit, has refused to renew Mr Key’s pledge on this issue.)
And while the country’s net external indebtedness, relative to GDP, has improved somewhat in recent years, that external indebtedness remains at a high level, the consequence of New Zealand’s running a current account balance of payments deficit every year since 1974. Much of that deficit has been funded by banks borrowing on the international markets to fund the explosion of private sector housing debt, the result in turn of another serious policy failing, the failure to deal with the enormous increase in the price of housing (or more accurately, of residential land).
Washington Club Member
Runs Central Districts
Washington National Press Club member Victoria Gaither (pictured at right) is now running a radio station in the heart of New Zealand’s Central Districts.
She worked for many years for ABC and NBC and began her career with ABC’s Ted Koppell one of the signature broadcaster anchors during the heyday of network television.
After her tour as news anchor, reporter, and producer she anticipated the present era of narrow-casting and decided to focus on community broadcasting.
It was now that she encountered New Zealand community broadcast specialist Stu Frith. The result is the Central Districts station, International Connection Radio.
The region has long been regarded as favourable to news media in all its forms. In recent memory the two main centres, Wanganui and Palmerston North, each supported morning and afternoon daily newspapers.
In the Westminster sphere, New Zealand was a pioneer in the introduction of private radio and the region has long hosted an in-depth variety of broadcasters.
The station is based in the old flax port town of Foxton which remains the region’s heritage focus.
She has found the area quite literally receptive to the introduction of enhanced community participation broadcasting which she describes as being in essence a form of networking.
Under the New Zealand club’s reciprocal arrangement with the Washington National Press Club, Victoria Gaither enjoys full membership rights.
“Trying to predict President Trump through
traditional means, such as monitoring after-the-fact media,
is like using ouija boards, tarot cards, and horoscopes”---Scot Faulkner
The newly installed Trump Administration continues to catch New Zealand officialdom by surprise. So National Press Club president Peter Isaac asked Washington insider Scot Faulkner (above) what Wellington’s response should in fact be? Mr Faulkner was elected the first Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. His reforms became a model for the operation of national parliaments around the world.
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry has set up a special focus group solely for the purpose of identifying early warning of new policies promulgated by President Trump, the ones which will have an impact on this country. Can you short circuit this by helpfully forecasting any of these pending surprise policies?
The New Zealand Foreign Ministry’s Trump Task Force will only be of value if it discards long held assumptions and embrace a totally new way of thinking and acting. Trying to predict Trump through traditional means, such as monitoring after-the-fact media, is like using ouija boards, tarot cards, and horoscopes.
The Ministry’s primary objective should be to move at “Trump speed” and navigate in Trump’s world. Non traditional sources, non traditional methods will be keys to success. Thinking like a visionary risk-taking entrepreneur instead of a politician is the first step into this new reality.
Trump is unique. No one like him has ever been the President of the United States. While a few Presidents had business experience, their main credentials were either the military or government. America usually faced political or military crises. The 2007-2008 economic collapse convinced most Americans that something radical was necessary. So they rallied around a businessman who was known to most as a reality television star. As Trump stated, “everyone else has failed you – what do you have to lose? Try me.”
Trump’s unique background means unique thought patterns and processes. President Trump gets his ideas, news, and validation from places never before involved in governing. He is fearless, non linear. He embraces chaos, acts on intuition, moves quickly, and uses surprise as a strategic weapon. Sometimes only he knows the ultimate objective. He is a student of military history, especially Sun Tzu. That is what gave him the winning edge in business, the Republican primaries, and the 2016 general election.
Trump’s new Administration is already being tested by China, Russia, and a variety of other nations. President Trump’s responses will indicate many things: how fast he responds, how he responds, how he views the challenge and the challenger, how he frames the challenge within his existing world view, how willing is he to vary from stated positions to address a unique situation, how willing is he to escalate, whose advice does he value, who he collaborates with, and who, how, and what does he communicate regarding the challenge to Congress, the American public, and other nations.
New Zealand needs to understand that the next four to eight years has a very different global player. Trump’s approach will be very personal, intimate, intuitive, immediate, chaotic, and against all conventional wisdom, very successful.
All the indications are that the New Zealand diplomatic apparatus in New York and Washington was wrong footed by the Trump ascendancy. This led to falling in line with the Obama era last moment positioning of New Zealand as co-endorser of the UN anti-Israel resolution. Does New Zealand need to backtrack here?
New Zealand should always be wary of being pulled into American politics. Obama’s last minute swipe at Israel during his waning days as President should have been avoided at all costs. Obama’s behind the scenes orchestration of the resolution, which was being delayed until the new Administration, was ill-advised and dilatory. It undermined decades of America being a positive force in the region.
President Trump is a great friend of Israel. He and his team believe that, historically, enemies of America have funded the radical elements of the Palestinian cause.
Trump is committed, heart & soul, to destroying radical Islam and reining-in Iran. His priority is working with those nations that share his view. He sees Israel, and the moderate Arab governments, like Egypt and Jordan, as allies in eradicating ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their regional and tribal affiliates throughout the Arab world, Asia, and Africa.
Trump and his foreign policy team fundamentally differ from the Neo-conservatives who surrounded President George W. Bush. They adhere more to the Reagan-Thatcher/John-Paul II approach of destroying tyranny, but not trying to second guess centuries of local custom through nation building. America’s role is to inspire, not intervene, in a nation’s journey toward a freer society.
Israeli settlements are far more complex than the media portrays. Palestinian contractors and workers build Israeli settlements. West Bank unemployment soars whenever Israel slows or suspends new settlements. The chasm between peaceful, free, and democratic Israel and violent, oppressive, Islamic failed states in the region is stark. Land for Peace has been a chimera for Israel. De-radicalizing Palestinian leaders and their movement would go further in creating lasting peace than continuing to place the onus on Israel.
The Anti-Israel Resolution validated Trump’s view that the United Nations is currently there to promote radical anti-Western policies while wasting vast sums of money. It further proves his wisdom of pursuing America’s interests through bilateral, not multilateral, arrangements.
New Zealand has supported in spirit the US-EU trade embargo against Russia called up by President Obama. Is there a defined timetable to conclude this embargo?
There is no defined timetable for ending or modifying the trade embargo against Russia.
President Trump and his inner circle have a non-ideological practical “America first” world view. It harkens back to the 17th/18th Centuries. During that era, Western nations united to stop the expansion of the Ottoman Empire then competed, sometimes violently, to dominate world trade.
President Trump wants to build relationships with Russia and China for ridding the world of rogue players – radical Islam, Iran, and North Korea. This is why he picked Rex Tillerson, who has strong relationships with Russia as his Secretary of State, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is friends with President Xi Jinping, as Ambassador to China. This is also why Trump picked a skilled fighter, James Mattis, as his Secretary of Defense.
Trump’s trade and business team is equally ready to help America win in world commerce. Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuckin, and Robert Lighthizer will aggressively negotiate favorable trade agreements and rebuild U.S. competitiveness.
Russia remains problematic as its adventurism in Ukraine and intimidation of the Baltic States complicates Trump’s desire to be “frenemies”. Tillerson will be challenged to craft the right mix of incentives and punishments to refocus Russo-American relations. The current US-EU trade embargo will be assessed within this context.
The Transpacific Partnership Agreement signed in Auckland last year was No 1 on President Trump’s hit list. Looking at the longer term where do you see the advantages/disadvantages in this?
President Trump is all about building one-on-one personal relationships with world leaders. Bi-lateral relationships were his strong suit in business and will serve him well as President. They allow him more flexibility and agility. He has little interest in multi-lateral agreements or entities.
This is why TPP was in his cross hairs as a candidate and now as President. New Zealand and other TPP nations need to offer their best “value proposition” for trade relationships that will benefit the U.S. as much as themselves. These are the kinds of agreements that will get Trump’s attention and become his priority.
Trump prides himself on the foreign investments in America he has facilitated or promoted. He wants American companies to “come home” to America, and foreign companies to settle in America. Trump’s goal is to bring the best of the world to America to rebuild infrastructure and generate lasting employment opportunities. There is a new world of opportunity for New Zealand investment and partnering in America.
Given the available evidence it is hard not to conclude that officials here have only a threadbare understanding of what is going on in the relevant circles of United States policymaking. Where should they be looking? Who should they be talking to now?
Trump’s tweets remain the best original source. Trump won the nomination and the general election by going directly to the public. Over 50 million Americans follow Trump on Twitter and Facebook. The Washington-New York media have become completely irrelevant to the Trump Administration and to Trump’s America.
President Trump has revolutionized the way policy is created, promoted, and implemented. The establishments within the Federal Government, Congress, media, academia, and policy forums, still do not have a clue about what is happening before their eyes.
America’s post-Cold War drift through four failed Presidents has come to an end.
Reagan won the Cold War by using skills he developed in movies and television to command the world stage. Those skills destroyed the Soviet Empire, relaunched the U.S. economy, and redefined the role of government. Trump is using his business and reality television skills to command the world stage for himself and the United States. Like Reagan, Trump is seeking to defeat tyranny, in this case radical Islam, relaunch the U.S. economy, and not just redefine, but completely reinvent government. The establishment dismissed Reagan until he succeeded. The establishment is dismissing Trump, and will be just as embarrassed should he succeed.
Conservative talk radio speaks for Trump and puts his actions and tweets into context. They aggressively expose the liberal media and the Democrats when they promote fake news and conspiracies about Trump. Trump watches Fox news, listens & calls into conservative talk radio, and avidly follows their social media posts. Each validates the other. The most articulate and insightful conservative commentators are Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, and Chris Plante. Washington-based WMAL radio hosts all three.
Out of Favour
Editor Richard Long
Set up Boss’ Golf
Former editor of The Dominion Richard Long,(pictured) a long-time colleague of Mike Robson’s presented the gathering with an insight into his boss’ sense of fair play. As editor of The Dominion, he recounted, he had one day pounced on the fact that his morning newspaper in circulation terms had nudged The Evening Post out of its customary stop-selling slot. Unable to resist the opportunity he had had published in his own newspaper The Dominion a few paragraphs to this effect.
Mike Robson had made it clear to Long that this was not the kind of skiting he welcomed pitting as it did, one group daily against another. He, Robson, was not impressed.
Anxious to get back in his chief’s good books, Long now twisted and turned seeking an opportunity to redeem himself. It was now that salvation appeared in the avuncular form of United States ambassador Josiah Beeman. The ambassador had an approval problem too. He was still looking for a suitable golf partner in New Zealand for his own boss, visiting United States President and golf buff Bill Clinton.
It was now that Long saw his own game opening up. Mike Robson was the obvious partner, he advocated. Diplomatic and tactful in terms of ensuring parity between his own swings and those of the President. A natural partner. And so it was that Mike Robson found himself teeing off at Millbrook with Bill Clinton.
Sometime afterward and by now feeling a certain glow of managing directorial favour re-radiating in his direction, Long delicately took up the matter of how the presidential game had actually gone?
Clinton, responded Robson, had been a predictably tough competitor fighting over every swing and claiming at every opportunity the presidential mulligan or no-count fluffed shot. For his part Robson felt that he had maintained an easy focus in spite of there being as part of the presidential entourage someone with a golf bag that in fact contained an armament designed to disable any low flying and thus threatening light aircraft.
The only unforeseen element came at the conclusion of the 18 holes, explained Robson.
Oh, what was that? Asked Long
Clinton wanted to do the 18 holes again “now.” At that moment .
Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented to Family of
Mike Robson who
Led Rupert Murdoch
Era Interests Here
At a ceremony in Wellington in November the National Press Club presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to the family of the late managing director of the INL Group Mike Robson. The citation read:- In recognition of Mike’s extraordinary contribution in many roles and over many years to journalism.
Mr Robson died suddenly in 2000 at the age of 61 at the height of his powers in guiding New Zealand’s 12th largest company with its interests in daily newspapers, commercial printing, periodicals distribution and retailing along with broadcasting.
Mr Robson’s career began as a sports reporter on the New Zealand Herald. He gravitated to general reporting and it was now that he became a wire service correspondent in the United States and Europe. He then became editor of Wellington’s Evening Post and it was here that Mr Robson’s low-key and thoughtful approach came to the attention of INL managing director Alan Burnet. Mr Burnet appointed him as assistant managing director. Upon the retirement of Mr Burnet it was Mike Robson’s turn to take over as managing director.
The skill of this duo, according to National Press Club president Peter Isaac, was to integrate the diverse media and printing organisation into direct input electronic handling and then to ensure a smooth transition into the internet era. Mr Robson’s death occurred only several months after INL’s internet site Stuff went live.
Their success in bringing about this transition was characterised by Mr Burnet going on to lead the government’s Communications Advisory Council responsible for setting national standards and governance.
Singled out at the gathering for special mention was Mr Robson’s easy relationship with the then proprietor of New Zealand’s INL Group, Rupert Murdoch. The strength of this working relationship, it was noted, played out to the benefit of the group’s journalists of that era.
It was observed that Mr Robson’s era encompassed Wellington’s epoch as Oceania’s media city with its two newspapers which co-existed long after other centres had been forced to shut down their evening daily.
The holding of the presentation ceremony in the heart of Wellington’s entertainment district symbolised Mr Robson’s tenure as editor of the Evening Post which had flourished through exercising a street-level ability to portray Wellington in all its nooks and crannies and diverse ways of life. It was said that Mike Robson never fell into the “trappings trap.”
The plaque was presented to representatives of the family by National Press Club vice president Peter Bush, an early colleague of Mr Robson’s on the New Zealand Herald.
In response, Mr Robson’s widow Marjie recalled how her husband possessed a literary passion as counterweight to his sporting enthusiasms. This had been nurtured by his parents during his years growing up on a Pukekohe dairy farm. His quest to educate himself had accelerated during his tour of duty in the United States where the couple had met. She recalled that when Mike had enrolled at university in the United States the other students stood up for Mike, imagining him to be one of the professors.
In the photograph (above) Master of Ceremonies Bryan Weyburne with Marjie Robson, son Toby and National Press Club vice president Peter Bush.
1. Media lawyer Graham Holmes with The Dominion’s long time financial editor Terry Hall.
2. Pixers pose. INL Photographers Barry Durrant and Peter Bush
On Display at
Energetic agricultural specialist Jon Morgan decided to acquire a new car in order to commemorate his 50 years in journalism. The hands-on reporter opted for both substance and style. He acquired the very last of the British premium luxury cars in service in the New Zealand corporate and official sphere--- the Rover that was once also the standard limousine for diplomats and cabinet members.
The vehicle with its smooth leather and wood upholstery is barely run-in. The acquisition went on display at the 22nd annual review of long serving Wellington region journalists which is always held in January on the Morgan estate near Otaki.
New Zealand Herald Triumvirate
National Press Club Lifetime Achievement laureate Graham Stewart (pictured at the presentation) was on hand to greet the young Mike Robson when he signed on as cub sports reporter. Mr Stewart’s award was for his constant career in photo-journalism characterised in the second half of his career by his presence as a leading independent book publisher specialising in documentary subjects, notably transport. In this entrepreneurial role Mr Stewart was cited for his effort in generating employment for journalists. Also a presence at the Herald in that era was Sir Terry McLean who Mike Robson always described as one of his enduring mentors. Sir Terry was an inaugural laureate of the National Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
1. Peter Bush, Toby Robson, Marjie Robson
2. Krystina Tomaszyk and in background National Press Club Life Member and INL editor Paul Cavanagh, and Barry Durrant
Our prediction in February 2016
Odds Favour Melania Trump as next United States First Lady
Will bring much needed internationalism to White House
National Press Club/MSCNewsWire, 26 February 2016 - The permutations in the Republican Party selection process in which some delegates carry more value than others indicate that Donald Trump will be the party’s presidential nominee. The polls indicate too that he has at least a 50-50 chance against a Democratic ticket.
These favourable odds are not reflected by the international media and hardly surprisingly. The Republican front-runner routinely describes his media entourage as being comprised of the “worst people in the world.”
Also by passed is that there is a 50 percent chance now of the next United States First Lady having been born behind the Iron Curtain, and indeed, only the second to be born abroad after Louisa Adams, the English wife of John Quincy Adams.
A former architectural student in Yugoslavia Mrs Trump, 45, (pictured) is expected to bring a much-needed internationalism to the White House and especially so in a mastery of the main European languages.
A failure in the United States’ much-vaunted Arabism capability has meant that its Middle East policy has now spilled over into Europe. This emergency in turn has collided with the United States continuing policies to contain Russia. The two US thrusts have blended into an unmanageable human and economic blend of what is increasingly being viewed in Europe as being insoluble.
With her background of life on both sides of the Iron Curtain who better to explain the US-created imbroglio than Mrs Trump?
From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk | February 26, 2016 |
Yes, New Zealand Judges are Above Criticism
But their Judgments are Not
Napier, MSCNewsWire, Wednesday 18 May 2016 - In the entire sphere of jurisprudence in New Zealand nothing is quite so obscured or subject to so much ambivalence, tautology or sheer confusion as the matter of the right of citizens to censure members of the judiciary who in this matter give the impression of being as bemused on the topic as the public at large.
In the English speaking world the problem appears peculiar to New Zealand in the same way that otherwise learned and cultivated people describe here a collective of females as a group of “woman.”
The very simplicity seems to render it beyond any comprehensible analysis and thus definition.
This confusion visibly vexed Law Lord Leslie Scarman who, at a conference here, said, and we quote....
“I am going to speak to this only one more time.....It is this........You may criticise the judgment. But you many not criticise the judge.”
This succinct appraisal by Lord Scarman (pictured at the time of his visit to New Zealand) evidently fell on deaf years. So we will now paraphrase the rest of Lord Scarman’s discourse as his audience insisted on further clarification on this issue which has now entered such a fevered phase.....................
Judge John Doe, as we will call him, delivered a mild custodial sentence to an individual who painstakingly plotted the death of an innocent person going about their daily business. The individual thus sentenced, it transpired, had a criminal past and in the eyes of reasonable persons might sensibly be regarded as presenting an enduring menace to society.
Following their release after their relatively brief time in prison the individual in fact became a lethal menace to society.
A reasonable person might now reasonably cause to say or to be published words to the effect that the judgment was wrong , and misguided, and might be deemed to have even caused the death of an innocent person.
So far so good. The judgment is being criticised. Not the judge.
What cannot be said or caused to be published is that Judge John Doe came to the judgment because he, Judge John Doe, was:-
* A drunkard
* Of impaired mental powers
* Knew or was otherwise acquainted with the accused
This type of criticism of a trial judge technically triggers extremely severe repercussions on those who utter them or cause them to be otherwise broadcast or published.
In New Zealand though such commentaries have been allowed to pass by, especially the one centred on the trial judge having some sympathy with the accused through acquaintance or some other common interest.
The current and demonstrable confusion on this matter and exhibited all levels of society including the judiciary itself must now be clarified and done so using the concise definition provided by Lord Scarman.
Fairfax –APN New Zealand Merger Must Focus on Unified Christchurch Print Hub
Up up and away from Auckland (and Wellington)
Napier, MSCNewsWire, 17 May 2016 - Airfreight will determine the cost-efficiency and thus the success of the pending merger of the New Zealand subsidiaries of the Australian Fairfax and APN media chains which must now look to the skies for the mechanical economies of scale they know they must now find.
As it is the sparsely populated New Zealand is host to the two chains’ scattered printing plants strung out in a line between Auckland and Dunedin.
The opportunity exists for a forwarder to present the merging group with a scheme that would allow it to consolidate all its mechanical activities into one site.
A case for Christchurch would be the forwarder’s master stroke.
A problem for the two chains is the constant pre-occupation with three dimensional mechanical production issues at the expense of the idea ones, the ones that do not require capital investment, and which are central to success in the internet age.
In the event much of the Auckland and Wellington dailies are early material anyway with their sports updates, soft-peddle business re-hashes, generic environmental stories, and columns by local celebrities usually talk-back types presenting their glimpses of the blindingly obvious, along with political activists. Their vehicle, travel and property supplements meanwhile are hardly of hold the front page grade urgency.
A problem for the two subsidiaries is that in the past they have found it hard to cooperate and this curiously has become more evident in a shrinking market.
There was their failure to cooperate in the matter of the TradeMe acquisition. Indeed a suitable study for one of their question-marked “investigative” pieces might be entitled – What has the Newspaper Proprietors Association Been Doing?
In fact the NPA, as it is known, was the victim of its own success in the matter of cashing in at the height of the market on its collective shareholding in Reuters.
The old family proprietors trousered their winnings and sensibly left the field to the two Australian chains.
Enter now the problem of representatives around the NPA table who were several steps removed from the real decision-making which of course now took place in Australia. They were in the position of being policy implementers rather than policy makers.
There began to emerge a distracting preoccupation with things such as scholarships and also with an increasingly proliferating and bizarre swathe of awards.
Curiously, too, the emphasis went on makeup hubs at a time when subeditors and other process journalists can efficiently work from their own kitchen tables.
The Christchurch Press Johns Road printery adjacent to the South Island’s international-grade airport indicates that such an eventuality may have been anticipated.
But experience indicates localised pre-occupations with mechanical processes of the type that have become near-irrelevancies in the compoundingly disruptive internet age.
Seriousness of Purpose is Club's Priority - President
This past year again saw the National Press Club adhering to the times and more specifically to an era in which the mainstream media pre-occupation adheres to contemporary culture rather than with the club’s mainstay of politics and hard news.
Even so our event earlier this year in handing back the green parrot artefact to the Green Parrot restaurant displayed a certain whimsicality on our behalf, admitted National Press Club president Peter Isaac in his annual report tabled at the annual general meeting in May.
The restoration event commemorated the era in which people from diverse occupations and callings were able to take up the role of newspapermen.
"Thanks to the wisdom of successive committees the club has refused to be panicked by the blend so evident today of the accelerating confluence of technical and sociological currents."
Instead the policy had been to conserve the club’s resources in order that they be deployed with an underpinning seriousness of purpose, he emphasised.
The club retains and develops numerous affiliations with other national press clubs and these "permit us to be engaged in the major ethical events of the era with www.nationalpressclub.org. routinely remaining at the very top ranking of these national sites."
One of the reasons for this was the club's new operational affiliations with the Napier-based news service MSCNewswire and the Washington-based EINPresswire service.
MSCNewswire he noted now has claims to being the pre-eminent dedicated internet news service in New Zealand and with its emphasis on commercial news is the one with the major international pick-up.
Touching upon membership issues Isaac noted that it was with deep regret that he had to report that Lifetime Achievement Award holder Connie Lawn remains severely stricken with Parkinson’s Disease. Two veterans of World War 2 also battled the effects of the passing years - Life Member Denis Adam and long time stalwart Mick Bienowski.
Green Parrot Jug returned to South Seas Longest-Operating Restaurant by VP Peter Bush, Australasia’s longest-practising journalist
MSCNewsWire-EIN-National Press Club Service, Napier, 30 March 2016 - Australasia’s longest-practising journalist Peter Bush returned to Australasia’s longest continuously-operating restaurant which is Wellington’s Green Parrot its signature and founding artefact, a green parrot ceramic jug made in Japan.
Mr Bush’s career as a photojournalist and war correspondent began in 1946, 20 years after the founding of the Green Parrot restaurant which also on this occasion celebrated its 90th birthday.
Mr Bush is vice president of the National Press Club which staged the ceremony. In fact the green parrot jug had lain unrecognised in the memorabilia of the club for many years. It had originally come into the club’s possession via an early stalwart, Tony Poynton.
He had intervened at a tense moment during the club’s post war years when it served as a de facto or curb exchange, most notably among scrap metal dealers such as Mr Poynton then was. A commanding presence, Mr Poynton’s intervention earned him the gratitude of the proprietor who stood to lose their trading licence if found to have conducted an unruly house.
The then proprietor gave the late Mr Poynton the signature jug which Mr Poynton, by now a newspaperman himself, had donated to the club to adorn any future premises.
The restoration event was emceed by National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne, pictured above with Peter Bush at centre and Green Parrot proprietor Chris Sakoufakis.
Speakers noted that the occasion would in future years be viewed as recording also the transition turning point from the colourful heyday of print journalism to the present technology-pressured one.
It was noted that someone such as Mr Poynton could in those earlier days switch from metals trading to newspapers and in the process bring with them a variety of new approaches and ideas along with real-world experience.
The timing of the ceremony, it was said, also saw the era approaching of the 40 year envelope from the advent of a technology on the consumer market, in this case the internet and associated technologies, to the point at which it became pervasive and thus fully transformational.
Electricity and automobiles were quoted as two earlier examples of this 40 year take up phenomenon.
The Green Parrot restaurant was begun in 1926 by a United States merchant seaman paid off in Wellington who had acquired the jug at Yokohama and who then named his new restaurant after the fashionable ceramic ornamental piece of kitchenware.
Event seen as Line in the Sand between Old & New Eras
Kay Poynton, Tony’s sister with Yvonne Weyburne
Richard Laurenson, Hamish Hancock, Gordon Stewart, Stephen Underwood
Carol Armstrong and Luba Perry
George Westermayer and Mark Dunajtschik
Ian and Adrienne Stewart
Anne Stewart and Barry Durrant
Connie Lawn is First to Talk to
NZ Washington Ambassador Tim Groser
Greatest farm surplus ever is the
prime problem for the career trade negotiator
MSCNewsWire-EIN-National Press Club Service, NAPIER, 14 March 2016 - After a lifetime massaging trade deals as an official and then as a Minister of the Crown, Tim Groser finds himself negotiating his trickiest mercantilist tightrope to date. As his country’s freshly installed ambassador to Washington the urbane yet wily bureaucrat must bed down his country’s role in the TPPA which he last year described as “New Zealand’s biggest ever free trade deal.”
His problem? How to get value from the Trans Pacific arrangement for an agrarian nation at a time when parties to the arrangement, along with the rest of the developed world, enter the era of hyper farm surplus?
Nothing unusual in this, even though the surplus is of greater magnitude than anything that has gone before.
In the past, trans Pacific parties such as the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have shared a simple solution. This was to ship the surplus to the always hungry Soviet Union, or Russia as we would describe it now.
This is no longer possible due to the US invoked and vigorously policed embargo on sending anything to this old disposal market.
Neither does the vast North American market offer much hope. Nobody is more conscious than Mr Groser of the surgical delicacy required in persuading Canada to sign up to the TPPA in the face of the opposition from its French-speaking dairy farmers, the most protected anywhere on the globe.
Should Mr Groser turn his attention to Europe he can only contemplate still greater surpluses as more farm categories come off the restricted production quota list. Next off the rank, the EU sugar beet production limits.
And yet...and yet....markets are never static. Mr Groser would never utter it, and may even have disciplined himself never to think it. But daily the odds are increasing in favour of Britain’s exit from the EU.
From his Washington command-post, it is hard to imagine that Mr Groser does not see just one more trade deal, on top of all the other ones to which he has been a party?
As he suavely goes about his official rounds, might not Mr Groser be forgiven if his thoughts are pulled away from a Pacific contemplation to considering now the nearby Atlantic Ocean?
As someone as close to the epicentre of world trade as it is possible for anyone to reach, might he not just be contemplating from time to time, oooh, something like a new Commonwealth Preference regime?
One in which Euro-soured Britons return to the supplier that rescued them until quite recent times from what Mr Groser and his diplomatic colleagues would delicately describe as “food insecurity.”
When the dean of the White House Press Corps and holder of the National Press Club, Lifetime Achievement Award Connie Lawn (pictured with Mr Groser) was first through the embassy doors to discuss events with the the new ambassador, these and other elements of realpolitik became the background tapestry to the official politesse.
The lesson of very recent years, and to which the Russian embargo bears witness, is that not only is the United States run from Washington. But in large measure, so is Europe.
Dr Liam Fox MP: Shire party members will decide next British Prime Minister
GP MP has had two runs at becoming leader of the Conservatives.
Napier, MSCNewsWire, Monday 11 July 2016 - British Conservative Member of Parliament and Brexiteer Dr Liam Fox was matter of fact when several years ago he reminded a Wellington audience that leaders of the Conservative Party were chosen by “135,000 party members, most of them resident in the shires.”
Dr Fox (pictured) who put himself again this year in the running for Conservative Party leader, and thus this time also Prime Minister, has found himself dealt out of the pack prior to this decisive demonstration of grass roots party power.
The party members will now decide the result in the final run-off between contestants and joint finalists Theresa May MP and Andrea Leadsom MP.
Dr Fox, an engaging speaker responded in connection with party leadership contests in New Zealand involving National (caucus) and Labour (caucus and union). He was talking to a National Press Club meeting.
Dr Fox was then in New Zealand as shadow foreign secretary as well as Conservative Party chairman a post from which he sought initially and unsuccessfully in that era to launch himself into the full Tory leadership.
General practitioner Dr Fox has been dogged by British Parliamentary expenses revelations which were a factor in 2011 for his standing down as secretary of state for defence.
Meanwhile the party’s membership now said to be 150,000 can vote for Theresa May MP or Andrea Leadsom MP– with the result announced by 9 September. The result will be announced then in time for the Conservative party conference on 2 October, the date David Cameron gave for his successor to be in place when he resigned after the vote to leave the EU.