Helen Clark resumes her position as prime minister of New Zealand (NZ) after a narrow win in the last election, but only in a coalition with the ultra-conservative political party New Zealand First, headed by controversial Winston Peters.
Peters has spoken out against NZ liberal immigration policy, particularly against Asian immigration. I think he fears the presence of Asians will adversely affect the economic opportunities for native Maoris. Read here for some of his anti-Asian statements.
The current coalition has seen Clark appointing Peters as the new Minister for foreign affairs and trade. A majority of Kiwis have criticised Clark’s choice as the appointment of an anti-Asian Peters may send a wrong message regarding NZ’s attitude towards Asia.
Just a couple of days ago, Aussie media reported that new NZ Foreign Minister has sought Aussie help to repair the rather fragile relationship between NZ and the USA. The Kiwis and Americans had a falling out in 1986, when NZ then under Labour PM David Lange declared a nuclear-free policy, which effectively banned US nuclear warships from entering NZ ports.
The US government threw its usual tantrum when it couldn’t get its bullying way. It cold shouldered NZ for years, refusing to continue the defence and intelligence cooperation that was a feature of the ANZUS defence security pact.
The reported attempt by Foreign Minister Peters to solicit Aussie help to re-engage the USA seems to be a reversal of the Kiwis’ abhorrence of nuclear weaponry.
However, PM Helen Clark has come out to declare that alleged reversal as nonsense, saying that Minister Peters informed her the news report has been nothing other than pure drivel. In other words, Clark’s Labour-dominated government is telling the Americans that its nuclear warships are still unwelcome.
But I wonder with Minister Peters?