Political Roundup: Jacinda Ardern’s tilt towards the West continues at the UN
Analysis by Geoffrey Miller
Jacinda Ardern intends to continue a more pro-Western foreign policy strategy, if her agenda from a hectic week of diplomacy is anything to go by.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister met with four G7 leaders – Liz Truss, Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron – in various settings while she was at the Queen’s funeral in London and at the United Nations in New York.
While at the UN, Ardern fitted in a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and spoke with Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ardern also met with the Chilean president, Gabriel Boric, and with the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. There were also shorter, more fleeting meet-and-greet opportunities on the UN floor – such as with Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir – and at a US-hosted reception for world leaders, where Ardern talked to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Ardern addressed Pacific Islands Forum leaders at the launch of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent plan. And the expansion of a new US-led grouping, the Partners in the Blue Pacific, also took place while Ardern was in New York. The group previously included Australia, Japan and New Zealand, but it has now been widened to bring in Germany and Canada.
The PM’s ability to attract the attention of top world leaders is well-known and is a measure of her international standing. It was certainly not a one-off: this was her third meeting this year with Joe Biden. And it was her second with Trudeau and Macron, after she was an invited guest at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid in June.
Indeed, the common denominator for many of Ardern’s interlocutors seemed to be their commitment to supporting the Western-led coalition that has emerged from Russia’s war on Ukraine.
In a week in which Vladimir Putin mobilised 300,000 reservists and indirectly threatened to use nuclear weapons, it is probably no surprise that Ardern sought to show her solidarity through the company she kept.
The Prime Minister’s speech to the UN General Assembly was also very much in keeping with this theme: Ardern called Russia’s war ‘illegal’ and ‘immoral’, before highlighting New Zealand’s opposition to nuclear weapons.
A notable omission from Ardern’s speech was any mention of the word ‘food’, which stood out as a major theme in addresses from many countries in the Global South.
India’s foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, said that his country was ‘on the side of those struggling to make ends meet, even as they stare at the escalating costs of food, of fuel and fertilizers’, while Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos called food ‘an existential imperative, and a moral one. It is the very basis of human security’.
Indeed, a dedicated food security summit co-hosted by the US, European Union, African Union and Spain was held during UN leaders’ week. Ardern did not appear to attend the event, which was held on the same day as a ‘Christchurch Call’ leaders’ summit she co-hosted with Emmanuel Macron.
Food security did make it into the UN statement made by Australian foreign minister Penny Wong, however, who said the crisis amounted to a ‘growing scale of human suffering that threatens untold global instability’.
Wong also seemed to meet with counterparts from a more diverse range of countries than Ardern did – the Australian foreign minister’s agenda in New York included meetings with counterparts from India, Indonesia, China, Mexico and Turkey.
While many leaders choose to attend the UN personally, such as Ardern, it is also common for foreign ministers such as Wong to attend in their place. China and Russia were two other countries that dispatched their foreign ministers to New York.
A third strategy is to use both figures – an approach the UK pursued by sending both its new Prime Minister Liz Truss and foreign secretary James Cleverly. If New Zealand’s aim had been to maximise meeting opportunities after the Covid-19 pandemic, this tactic might have been considered. But Ardern decided to keep Nanaia Mahuta back in Wellington, where she welcomed new heads of mission and faced questions over domestic issues.
Back in New York, a key difference between the Global North and Global South at the UN unfolded over the approach to the war in Ukraine. Western countries largely pointed fingers at Russia. Joe Biden said ‘it’s Russia’s war that is worsening food insecurity, and only Russia can end it’, while Liz Truss told her audience that ‘we will not rest until Ukraine prevails’.
By contrast, non-Western countries such as India, Turkey and Qatar were keener to contemplate the idea of a negotiated settlement simply to end the war.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, pointed to his country’s success in brokering the recent Black Sea grain export deal and called for a ‘reasonable, just and viable diplomatic solution’ to the war that would ‘provide both sides the opportunity of an “honourable exit”‘.
Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, even called for an immediate ceasefire – a word rarely used in current discussions about the war in Ukraine.
For his part, the Indian foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, argued his country was ‘on the side of peace’ and wanted an ‘early resolution’ to the conflict. He also noted that the global focus on Ukraine meant less attention was being paid to other crises in India’s immediate neighbourhood, such as Afghanistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
These calls may fall on deaf ears.
With both sides keen on maximising their positions, a resolution to the war in Ukraine appears further away than ever.
As Jacinda Ardern inches New Zealand’s foreign policy towards the West, it is understandable that she might want to spend more time with like-minded counterparts.
It is natural to stand alongside those who we agree with.
But as the UN General Assembly showed this year, it is worth remembering that there are many other points of view.
Geoffrey Miller is the Democracy Project’s international analyst and writes on current New Zealand foreign policy and related geopolitical issues. He has lived in Germany and the Middle East and is a learner of Arabic and Russian.
Further reading on International Relations
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): New Zealand will push for total ban on nuclear weapons – Jacinda Ardern
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Jacinda Ardern tries to balance climate change and Ukraine war at United Nations (paywalled)
Craig McCulloch (RNZ): On the trail of Jacinda Ardern: Hijinks and hiccups in New York
Herald Editorial: Can online radicalisation be put back in the box? (paywalled)
Other items of interest and importance today
CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT
Ireland Hendry-Tennent (Newshub): Green MP slams Heather du Plessis-Allan after interview with teen climate activist sparks bullying allegations
Mia Sutherland (Stuff): As a former School Strike 4 Climate organiser, I am all too familiar with ridicule. But this interview surprised me
Rose Cook (Spinoff): Heather du Plessis-Allan should be ashamed of how she bullied my daughter
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Ummmm – HDPA shitting on a 16 year old ISN’T the problem with the climate strike
Michael Neilson (Herald): Climate Change Minister and Greens co-leader James Shaw calls for rolling strikes until election
Steven Cowan: The Cynical politics of James Shaw
Pattrick Smellie (BusinessDesk): We uncover NZ’s $30 billion carbon target ‘hole’ (paywalled)
Adrian Macey and Dave Frame (BusinessDesk): NZ’s climate commitments: is self-flagellation the price of global leadership? (paywalled)
Richard Harman: Too many trees (paywalled)
No Right Turn: Labour: From disappointment to deceit
Brent Edwards (NBR): National calls for more urgency in reducing farm emissions (paywalled)
Rod Oram (Newsroom): NZ distant from New York climate talks, isolated from the world
Angus Kebbell (Interest): The ETS is not fit for purpose: Rob Morrison
Brian Easton (Pundit) Should We Be Relying On Storing Waste Carbon In Trees?
AUCKLAND MAYORAL ELECTION
1News: Auckland mayoralty: Viv Beck exit sees Wayne Brown jump in poll
Todd Niall (Stuff): Auckland mayoralty: Wayne Brown extends lead in latest poll
Bernard Orsman (Herald): Auckland mayoralty: Brown leapfrogs Collins to take handy lead in latest poll
Simon Wilson (Herald): Unanswered questions for business about Wayne Brown (paywalled)
Simon Wilson (Herald): Change or no change: What that big new Auckland mayoral poll reveals (paywalled)
Heather du Plessis-Allan (Herald): Car-free and light rail backer Efeso Collins won’t fix congestion in Auckland (paywalled)
David Farrar: The race for Auckland
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Q+A review: Auckland Mayoralty Special
Shaneel Lal (Herald): Efeso Collins apologises to queer people through action
Damien Venuto (Herald): Phil Goff exit interview – Efeso Collins, Three Waters and Baby Boomer male councillors
1News: Brown: Road pricing to ‘play role’ in public transport shift
GOVERNMENT AND PARLIAMENT
Chris Trotter (Interest): Old prejudices in new packages
Janet Wilson (Stuff): Parliament not only attracts bullies, it breeds them
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Ardern’s reconnected with the world, now to reconnect with New Zealand (paywalled)
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Jacinda Ardern’s popularity beams in New York, but remains rocky at home
Claire Trevett (Herald): Uffindell, Collins highlight a problem for National leader Luxon (paywalled)
Paula Bennett (Herald): It’s time the Government listened to the people (paywalled)
Lillian Andrews (Spectator Australia): More women in politics?!
Jo Moir (Newsroom): Nicola Willis strikingly absent from Uffindell report
Herald: Judith Collins’ 2023 plans, Jacinda Ardern mingles with the famous (paywalled)
Stephen Minto (Daily Blog): Labour centrists cut the path to death by a thousand cuts
Andrew Kirton (Herald): Length of Parliamentary term, voting age back on the agenda (paywalled)
Tim Murphy (Newsroom): Is the SFO too powerful for its own good?
MAHUTA INQUIRY AND INTEGRITY IN POLITICS
Max Rashbrooke (Stuff): The curse of cosyism in public life is hurting us all
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Why the Mahuta investigation needed to happen
Herald Editorial: Contracts awarded to family of Nanaia Mahuta need a thorough review (paywalled)
David Farrar: Hipkins apologises for smearing English
Karl du Fresne: The Mahuta saga: shameful not just for the government, but for the media too
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS, THREE WATERS
Tina Law (Stuff): Quiet early voter turnout may be due to concern over controversial candidates – expert
Brooke Black (Stuff): Early voter turnout numbers down across South Canterbury in 2022
Karl du Fresne: Who represents the greater threat to democracy right now – Action Zealandia or the Dominion Post?
Tom Hunt (Stuff): Smears and unwanted endorsements: Wellington council election getting ‘dirtier’
David Farrar: The Herald’s Councillor ratings
Chris Lynch: Lianne Dalziel careful to not define her legacy
Russell Palmer (RNZ): Three waters on the boil as elections loom
Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and Te Mana o te Wai
ECONOMY, EMPLOYMENT AND INEQUALITY
Kirsty Johnston (Stuff): Migrant workers living at school camp forced to endure ‘unacceptable’ conditions: Labour Inspectorate
Michelle Duff (Stuff): ‘I can’t afford to work’: ‘Free’ childcare is a myth, and costs for parents are high
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): The reason why Labour/Greens are failing the poor
Andrew Barnes (Herald): 14 years on from the GFC, have we learned anything? (paywalled)
Fran O’Sullivan (Herald): Mood of the Boardroom: Business leaders hammer Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson (paywalled)
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): What everyone is missing in the negative Mood of the Boardroom rankings
Bill Bennett (Herald): Mood of the Boardroom: The corporate tax rate has cost us business (paywalled)
Graham Skellern (Herald): Mood of the Boardroom: New tech way of the future (paywalled)
Tim McCready (Herald): Mood of the Boardroom: View on government moves in banking and supermarkets (paywalled)
Fran O’Sullivan (Herald): Mood of the Boardroom: Are we at peak inflation? (paywalled)
David Farrar: 2022 Mood of the Boardroom scores
Liam Dann (Herald): Why so gloomy? Where’s the post-pandemic party? (paywalled)
Geraden Cann (Stuff): Chef position ‘with three months’ free accommodation’
Brianna Mcilraith and Tina Morrison (Stuff): What one man’s two-week job hunt can tell us about the NZ labour market
Damien Grant (Stuff): Ports of Auckland becoming an open financial sore
1News: Poll: Aucklanders divided on housing intensification
Miriam Bell (Stuff): Do good school zones really drive up house prices?
Madeleine Chapman (Spinoff): Why we’re talking about renting all week on The Spinoff
Emma Vitz (Spinoff): Here’s how much the cost of renting has increased since 1993
Mildred Armah (Stuff): Auckland family eating on mats outdoors to avoid mould in Kāinga Ora home
Federico Magrin (Stuff): No signs of Taranaki’s years-long rental crisis easing, says housing charity manager
TREATY, RACE RELATIONS AND ETHNICITY
Audrey Young (Herald): Kelvin Davis on the Treaty of Waitangi: ‘It’s the perfect document. It’s just we happen to confuse it‘ (paywalled)
Stephanie Ockhuysen (Stuff): John Campbell’s journey to understand racism and the damaging effect of colonisation
Te Rina Kowhai and Alka Prasad (Newshub): Increase in online racism towards Māori concerning, experts say
Brendon McMahon (Local Democracy Reporting): ‘They’ll have no bloody idea’ – bilingual signs on the West Coast
Henry McMullan (1News): Māori firefighter files treaty claim against FENZ
Lana Hart (Stuff): We’re maturing, but are we grown-up enough to strike out on our own?
Eda Tang (Stuff): ‘This is gonna be cringe’: Chinese Language Week falls flat for Chinese Kiwis
Eda Tang (Stuff): Please stop saying ‘ni hao’ if you want to be an ally to Chinese people
Tze Ming Mok (Spinoff): When are you White and when are you Black?
Sharon Brettkelly (RNZ): What’s going to change under King Charles III?
Claire Trevett (Herald): Monarchy or republic? Sir John Key’s case for sticking with King Charles III (paywalled)
Luke Malpass and Katarina Williams (Stuff): New Zealand farewells Queen during sombre memorial service
Herald Editorial: The holiday we are having today is unusual (paywalled)
Sneha Jessica Gray (Herald): Queen Elizabeth death – re-imagining our relationship with the monarchy
Colin Peacock (RNZ): QE2, queues and cultural cues
Hayden Williams (ODT): Debating our head of state
Ian Powell (BusinessDesk): Health NZ’s transparency clear as mud (paywalled)
Alexa Cook (Newshub): Epidemiologists concerned after COVID-19 testing ditched, surveys delayed just as new variant arrives
Rachel Smalley (NBR): Silent survivors: kids paid high price for pandemic restrictions (paywalled)
Yvonne van Dongen (North & South): From both sides now
Damien Venuto (Herald): Why the school decile system had to go
Michael Neilson (Herald): Former decile 1 school De La Salle College may cut programmes after losing out on funding in new equity index
Jonathan Milne (Newsroom): Schools cautiously upbeat as they receive new funding and staffing details
Damien Venuto (Herald): RNZ-TVNZ merger and the problem with Willie Jackson’s comments (paywalled)
Caitlin Rawling (Newshub): RNZ-TVNZ merger: Government to redirect nearly $85m from NZ On Air to new public media entity
Dita De Boni (NBR): TVNZ warned to ‘change its attitude’ to new ANZPM entity (paywalled)
David Farrar: Hartwich on the PIJF
Duncan Greive (Spinoff): An ambitious new NZ centre-right media platform is rising on YouTube
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Isn’t Spin-Offs hysteria against public broadcasting self interested?
Paul Little (Listener/Herald): From Clyde to San Fran: Meet the Kiwi behind global media phenomenon Substack (paywalled)
Hayden Donnell (RNZ): The push for open justice
Jeremy Wilkinson (Herald): Two-year Human Rights Tribunal backlog causing stress for complainants (paywalled)
Luke Kirkness (Herald): Government is inviting vigilantism by lack of action against crime (paywalled)
Yvonne van Dongen (North & South): Voice control (preview)
Dileepa Fonseka (Stuff): Inside the delays at Immigration New Zealand
Aaron Smale (Newsroom): A structure of impunity
Aaron Smale (North & South): The Misery-Go-Round
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Sea level rise threat behind Wellington’s new light rail route (paywalled)
ODT: Editorial – Police must heed privacy concerns
Grant Miller (ODT): Backing for passenger rail