Finny on Five Eyes

September 14th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post from Charles Finny:

On 3 September 1939 a Labour Government in New Zealand declared war on Germany in support of the UK and others following Adolph Hitler’s decision to invade Poland.  Until the war ended in 1945 New Zealand made enormous sacrifices and as we all know, and as happened in World War I a disproportionately large number of New Zealanders were killed and wounded.  From 1941, the war became as much a war in the Pacific as a war in Europe. 

One of the developments of this war was signals intelligence and cryptography.  New Zealand and New Zealanders played as big a role in these areas as we did in the wider conflict.  Because of this, and because of the staunchness of our commitment we found ourselves part of what is now known as the “five eyes agreement”.  As technology has developed we have received the same signals intelligence as the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.  And our own communications have been protected by the highest grade encryption technologies developed in association with these other four countries.  For a pipsqueak little country of only a few million people located in a distant corner of the globe we have been in an incredibly privileged position.

The Labour Government that saw us through World War II, and those from 1957-60, 1972-75, 1984-90 and 1999-2008 have not sought to change our position in “five eyes” because the leaders and senior Ministers of those Governments have realized how lucky we are to be part of this agreement and knew how fundamental the intelligence derived from it was to the security of New Zealand.  Ultimately the most important function of government is to protect the people.  “Five eyes” plays a very important role in our ongoing security.  There was a wobble under Lange which saw New Zealand denied access to some processed intelligence from the US, but access to the raw communications intercepted by the four allies continued throughout.  Under Helen Clark the full flow of processed intelligence resumed.

I cannot believe what I have just heard David Cunliffe saying about GCSB today.  What we now call GCSB is as much a creation of Labour as it is the National Party.  It is crucial to our continuing security.  It protects us against the hostile actions of foreign governments, terrorist organizations, and international criminals.  Of course the same foreign governments, terrorist organizations and criminals hate the ‘’fives eyes agreement” and want it dismantled because it stands in their way.  I can’t believe that a Labour Leader would align himself with these forces and put this agreement and our position in it so much at risk.  If his senior colleagues do not call Cunliffe on this, shame on them too.  Our national security is too important to be put at risk by short term political opportunism.

David Cunliffe is now trying to buddy buddy up to Kim Dotcom and his hired speakers. If Dotcom’s allegations are correct (which of course they are not), then this happened under the Cabinet David Cunliffe sat in. Is he saying Helen Clark lied to New Zealand? or is he just desperately trying to win back some votes on the left?

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Finny on MFAT

April 26th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Charles Finny, a former MFAT staffer, writes at Stuff on changes to MFAT:

I met a former MFAT colleague a few days after Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had delivered his speech on planned changes to the way the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry does its business.

I was reminded that many of the proposed changes were actually suggested in the 1989-90 period and about how the MFAT system had been able to muster so much opposition to the proposals that few were implemented. It is therefore with little surprise that I read editorials and op-eds from former diplomats questioning some of what is being proposed.

MFAT has managed to fight off change for many decades.

MFAT has been extremely resistant to change. It has taken longer to embrace new technologies and management systems than pretty much every other organ of government. It is hierarchical and it has never quite come to grips with the tension that exists between specialists and generalists within the organisation. And until Mr Allen took over as CEO, it has never valued experience gained outside the ministry. Those seeking to come back to the ministry after years away were told that they would have to enter at the level they were at when they departed.

MFAT seems to have this strange rule that you can’t be a senior manager there, unless you are also a diplomat.

I agree fully with Mr McCully that competition should be introduced at head of mission level. There are plenty of current and past public servants from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Treasury, the Economic Development Ministry, Customs and Defence with the skill-set and experience necessary to do a head-of- mission job. Martyn Dunne, who is about to go off to Canberra as high commissioner, is an example of this type of person. And from time to time politicians will be the right person for an assignment. Mike Moore is doing a great job in Washington DC right now, as is Jim McLay in New York.

Diplomats deal with both diplomats and politicians. Sometimes the best person for the job will be a senior former politician such as Jim McLay. What should cease is the practice of sending politicians such as Graeme Kelly to a senior overseas post.

I am on record calling for even more radical reforms of the head- of-mission appointment process than Mr McCully. I believe those nominated for these important roles should be forced to appear before the foreign affairs and defence select committee and be the subject of questioning on their knowledge and experience relevant to the proposed assignment.

That’s not a bad idea.

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Finny not a spy!

December 13th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Sarah Harvey at Stuff reports:

Former Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive, diplomat and Government adviser Charles Finny has been named by WikiLeaks as the United States’ top Kiwi contact.

But Mr Finny denied being a spy and said the “key contact” mentions were flattering. He is quoted often in the US diplomatic cables controversially made public by website WikiLeaks, and in a cable from May 19, 2006, was singled out as a “close [US] embassy contact”.

“I am regularly talking to embassies, high commissions and journalists in New Zealand and around the world, in areas where I have expertise,” Mr Finny said. …

Mr Finny said he often saw important embassy contacts at functions in Wellington.

“You see them at cocktail parties, you have lunches occasionally and sometimes they formally call on you … once every four or five months. But you would probably see them once a week at cocktail parties.

If talking to embassy staff makes you a spy, then I’m a spy for the US, UK, and Australian Governments, plus the European Union.

Part of the job of embassy staff is to gain better understanding of NZ domestic and foreign policy. They do that by chatting to a variety of people. As Charles’ says, mainly at functions, but sometimes also over a meal.

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The Tramways Union Survey

October 8th, 2010 at 5:41 am by David Farrar

The Tramsway Union has done a survey of all of the candidates for Wellington Regional Council. Their questions basically were:

1. Earlier in the year Christchurch Bus Company Red Bus lost the tender for 6 routes resulting in 80 drivers being made redundant (see Radio NZ report: If elected what you do to make sure this never happens to Bus Drivers in Wellington?

2. In a recent report released by the Greater Wellington the council wants greater competition in public passenger transport in the region. Given competition has tended to result in driving down the wages and conditions of Bus Drivers will you oppose greater competition?

3. If elected what would you do to improve consultation between Greater Wellington and Workers in the public transport industry.

4. Do you support including minimum standards of employment as part of any tendering process for Public Transport bus services (eg minimum rates of pay, redundancy clause, a reports and complaint process)

5. Would you if elected support the Tramways Union in campaigning for greater public investment in public transport, and as part of this increasing the wages of drivers?

Of the candidates who answered, most tried hard to grease up to the union and say the right things. The most direct and honest response has to be Charles Finny whose response was:

Hi Nick. You have caught me offshore. But my answers are brief:
1. No
2. No
3. No
4. No
5. No
Thanks for taking an interest.
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Overseas Visitor Charges

January 3rd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

WCC is looking at whether to impose an entry charge for overseas visitors to facilities such as the Cable Car Museum, City Gallery, Capital E! and the Plimmer’s Ark conservation project on Queens Wharf.

I’m certainly in favour of user pays for overseas visitors, so long as the costs of collection were not too high. I also support Charles Finny:

Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Charles Finny said he favoured an amalgamation of local bodies in the Wellington region “rather have that than some sort of discriminatory pricing”.

“We think that having nine councils for a population of 450,000 people is absurd.”

If an amalgamation happened, funding problems would “just go away”.

Indeed Wellington does not need four city councils and five district councils.

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Questions on Kyoto

December 27th, 2008 at 9:10 am by David Farrar

Charles Finny has some questions on Kyoto. They are not questions about the basic science that if emissions increase, temperatures will increase. It is about the details behind Kyoto:

Several aspects of the Kyoto Protocol really annoy me.  For a start how can we solve this problem if major emitting economies have not taken on any obligations?  It looks as though the US will take on commitments to whatever replaces Kyoto but there seems no chance off China, India and Brazil etc taking on commitments.

If China and Inida especially do not come on board, it is all a waste of time and money. China has replaced the US as the world’s biggest emitter.

Why is there such inconsistency over points of obligation?  Why are consumers held responsible to the release of GHGs from oil, gas and coal and not the producing countries, when the country that cuts down a tree is held responsible for emitting the full amount of carbon stored in that tree from the time that it is cut down?  An importing country faces the full liability for emissions from gas, oil and coal, but exporting country faces the full liability for wood.  And why does the exporting country face the full liability for its agricultural emissions as opposed to the country that is going to actually consume the product that was produced as a result of all those emissions having been made?  So New Zealand imports oil from country x and bears the full costs of releasing the GHGs from burning that oil in New Zealand.  We export meat to country x, but also face the full cost of producing all the GHGs released while producing this meat.

Kyoto was a very flawed response to climate change. Even if fully implemented, it will only lower average mean temperature by 0.07 degrees by 2050.

Charles also raises some fascinating points over stock and methane. Would be good to see a point by point response to his questions by someone who can.

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Learning about your agenda through the media

December 1st, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Wellington Chamber of Commerce CEO Charles Finny blogs:

Many thanks to the Sunday Star Times for telling me something about myself which I did not know.  In his column today (page A11) Chris Trotter advises us all that there is a right wing conspiracy about to re-launch the privatisation agenda (a vehicle for ensuring that the right maintains control – apparently) by cunningly opening a new front – on local Government.  These right wingers are going to use a shadowy front organisation called the Local Government Forum to deliver this evil agenda.

Well it so happens that I know a little bit about the Local Government Forum.  I have been a participant in its work for a couple of years and last week was elected its Chair.  So apparently I am chairing a group that  has an agenda that I don’t know about.  Thanks Chris and thanks Sunday Star Times for conveying this news to me.

I thought the Local Government Forum was about promoting more efficient local government etc. Is the SST saying that the only way to do that is by privatisation? How very defeatist.

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Bullshit on Bullshit

April 11th, 2008 at 10:51 am by David Farrar

Winston Peters demanded the media grovel and apologise for the report that Phil Goff had described Peters’ attack on the free trade deal as Bullshit.

The Government then conceded that Goff has used the term “bullshit” but only in relation to criticism of the FTA, but somehow mytically this excludes Winston’s criticism.

Today the NZ Herald reports a business leader on the record confirming that Goff did indeed use the word “bullshit” about Peters’ criticisms of the deal.

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