Our place in the Pacific
The prime minister's speech was picked up for comments around Ukraine and the United Nations, but it was our independent foreign policy as a Pacific nation that was it's key focus.
Mōrena and welcome to The Bulletin for Friday, July 8, by Anna Rawhiti-Connell. Presented in partnership with Z Energy.
In today’s edition: Boris Johnson resigns; why the government is doing almost nothing about Covid; house price value fall; but first, the prime minister’s speech on our foreign policy.
Jacinda Ardern addresses the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia (Photo by Dean Lewins - Pool/Getty Images)
Just a quick note on yesterday’s Bulletin before we get into today’s news. I identified Jon Duffy as CEO of the Commerce Commission. He is CEO of Consumer NZ and the comments quoted are attributable to him and not anyone at the Commerce Commission. My apologies for the error.
Our independent foreign policy
As my colleague Toby Manhire has observed in passing, it’s not an everyday occurrence to get a fulsome expression of what our foreign policy is, directly from a prime minister. Often we are left to discern it by stitching together speeches, interviews or analysis of overseas trips and trade missions. Yesterday’s speech by prime minister Jacinda Ardern at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, was a 3,642 worder that lasted 24 minutes (plus a very long Q&A after). The speech was titled: A Pacific Springboard to Engage the World: New Zealand’s Independent Foreign Policy.
Our place is in the Pacific
Headlines picked out the PM’s comments about the general state of the world (“a "bloody mess”, “grim”) and her condemnation of Vladimir Putin and the United Nations. “Morally bankrupt position” is probably the strongest language Ardern has used to describe the United Nations’ failure to stop the war in the Ukraine and these are not inconsequential or unimportant comments. But acknowledging that failure is not particularly shocking. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the council had failed in preventing or ending the war in Ukraine in April.
Climate change must also be a "foreign policy priority
The speech unequivocally positioned New Zealand as part of the Pacific. There are 30 mentions of the word “Pacific” in the speech. Among her comments about the Pacific, Ardern said climate change must also be a "foreign policy priority" citing her trip to Tokelau, a low lying country where they are having to contemplate the relocation of burial grounds “to stop their ancestors washing away”. Ardern also said “it would also be wrong to position the Pacific in such a way that they have to ‘pick sides” while acknowledging other countries have interest in the region.
Pacific Island Forum next week
Ardern will meet with Anthony Albanese today to wrap up her trip to Australia. Ardern is managing expectations on outcomes there by saying (paywalled) the meeting "won't necessarily bring issues to conclusion." Next week, the prime minister will head to the Pacific Island leaders Forum. The 51st Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is in Suva, Fiji from July 11-14. Pacific peoples minister Aupito William Sio will attend the PIF instead of foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta who is recovering from Covid. Representatives from 18 countries, including New Zealand and Australia, will attend the summit.
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While we’re on international affairs…
It was trailered here for two days running and is an exemplar of a bloody mess, but British prime minister Boris Johnson has agreed to resign. Am linking to the Guardian live blog for old time’s sake. Perhaps New Zealand prime ministers are kryptonite to British ones? Johnson waited until 58 members of his government had resigned before agreeing to go. He will stay on until a new leader is elected which means he may beat Theresa May on length of time in office. Hardly a kind word to be found about him among the media. The Economist, with a Thursday morning print deadline, is running this image on its cover with the headline “Clownfall”. Many, many reporters have been trying to convey the news from outside Westminster, somewhat impeded by the playing of the Benny Hill theme over the loudspeakers by protestors in the vicinity. Apparently it was a request from Britain's most beloved former prime minister, Hugh Grant.
A better defined mask policy instead of the red traffic light setting
Throughout the very difficult times over the last two years, I always found Keith Lynch’s Covid explainers over on Stuff very comforting and useful. He’s got a new one on why the government is doing (almost) nothing about Covid. It appropriately veers away from explaining the hard science of Covid or the blacks and whites of the rules and regulations we’ve been observing, and charts the trickier water we navigate now. Lynch suggests the traffic light system “was born in an era of tight suppression, mandates and Auckland boundaries” and that it’s arguably counterproductive now. “Why not instead introduce a much better-defined masking policy without the concept of a ‘Red’ setting hanging over the population?” he asks.
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Click and collect
What we know about yesterday’s fireball in the sky.
“New Zealand is Australia's best friend in the world” - good piece from Luke Malpass on changing perceptions of New Zealand in Australia.
Australia offers fourth Covid booster shot to everyone over 30.
Electric vehicle users in the South Island will soon have access to more charging stations
Is the housing market’s tide really turning?
Quotable Value's house price index shows average values fell 3.4% in the three months ended June to $1.01 million, compared with the 2.2 percent fall in the May quarter. But annually, the average property value was up 7.2% from a year ago, down from the 10.5% growth last month. For decades we've been warned of major slumps that never happened, but the Reserve Bank's new chief economist Paul Conway says this time, it's different. With a history of central bank governors and finance ministers making similar predictions that never came to pass, Bernard Hickey challenges Conway's view that the housing market’s ever-upward tide may be turning in this week’s episode of When the Facts Change.
It's 20 years today since the controversial "Corngate" interview between John Campbell and prime minister Helen Clark. Duncan Greive looks back on an epochal moment in political media history. Toby Manhire explains why New Zealand's Covid hospitalised number just dropped from 15,000 to 8,500. Bernard Hickey says we shouldn’t hold out too much hope for a grocery market "2degrees effect". Sela Jane Hopgood listens to Auckland mayoral candidate Efeso Collins' new campaign jingle, which might be even catchier than his last one. And Toby Morris has searched high and low, far and wide for the great New Zealand logo to present this ranking of the top 50.
Rafa out of Wimbledon
Rafael Nadal has pulled out of his Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios due to his abdominal injury. Nadal called a press conference at around 6.20am to announce his withdrawal. This gives Kyrgios a walk straight into the final against whoever wins the Cameron Norrie and Novak Djokovic's semi-final on Saturday. Kyrgios is due to appear in court in Canberra next month, charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
It’s Friday so…
Straight out of the “who amongst us has not” files is this poor bugger at the BBC who was on-air during a cross to Downing St on one of the biggest news days in recent British history without realising he was on-air. He has been captured for all internet eternity with his feet on the newsdesk, scrolling on his phone, just chillin’ and after a moment’s peace to maybe catch up on his newsletter reading or whether Larry, the Downing St cat, had also asked Boris Johnson to resign. I remain eternally grateful there will never be a camera trained on me on the job in the mornings. There is a posture that is truly awful, Bulletin-writing socks and Bulletin-writing house pants and that’s where I will end this.