Audio/Text: New Zealand Report with Selwyn Manning, Dave Penberthy, Jane Reilly and Mark Aiston. Recorded live on 27/02/15. Item One: Australia and New Zealand prime ministers meet to discuss terrorism and security. Item Two: World Cup Cricket Australia V New Zealand!
Back in Australia Tony Abbott’s hold on the prime ministerial leadership is again under threat, but here in New Zealand it will be business as usual as he meets with the Kiwi Prime Minister John Key in the annual Australia NZ leaders’ bilateral meeting. Terrorism and both domestic and international security will be the significant issues to be discussed.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in New Zealand today (Friday) for the annual Australia-New Zealand leaders’s meeting.
Significantly, Abbott and New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key will discuss the terrorism threat confronting both countries, domestic security operations and legislation, the Australia and New Zealand military deployments to Iraq, and the legalities of our own defence forces providing the necessary security for themselves.
This week, the New Zealand Government committed 143 personnel to deploy to Iraq for a maximum of two years – but only 16 or the 143 personnel are actually trainers.While, unlike Abbott, John Key enjoys strong popularity on his home turf, this week he has been strongly criticised for his decision to commit New Zealand to this conflict against Islamic State.
The country is divided in the issue. In the Legislature, 60 members supported going to Iraq, 60 opposed the decision.
Public polls reported 49 percent in support, 43 percent against joining the conflict.
(Contrast this to solid public and political support for New Zealand’s role in RAMSI, the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands. Kiwis seem to remember there was little extra-regional military support for the Solomons crisis, nor was an international contingent forthcoming when Australia and New Zealand deployed to East Timor in 1999 onwards.)
However, John Key was clearly keen to send soldiers to this Iraq conflict, even without a United Nations security council resolution.
And his leadership on the matter has been wanting. He continues to insist New Zealand’s specialised SAS combat troopers will not be sent to Iraq, while insisting the NZ contingent based in Taji base north of Baghdad will be provided security. The trouble is, Key will not detail who will provide that security.
When it came to making a formal decision, the Prime Minister dithered, was hesitant, was less forthcoming with the New Zealand public than were visiting foreign ministers. In short, he failed to convince Kiwis that New Zealand Government was operating in-line with its well paraded independent foreign policy.
Critics have lined up against Key from all sides of this debate.
The weather looks perfect for Saturday’s Cricket World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand at Eden Park here in Auckland.
And during the innings break of Saturday’s game, New Zealand cricketing great, master batsman, Martin Crowe, will be inducted into the International Cricket Council’s hall of fame.
Only two other Kiwis have been given the honour, Sir Richard Hadlee and Debbie Hockley.
Martin Crowe played 77 tests, scoring 5444 test runs at an average of 45.36, including 17 centuries, the most by a New Zealander.
Crowe also played 143 one-day internationals, scoring 4704 runs at an average of 38.55.