It is becoming apparent that the Government has at all thought carefully about how having a “independent” Foreign Minister will work.
Clark today is reported as saying that Peters is bound by collective responsibility on issues such as defence and trade policy in his role as Foreign Minister. But he isn’t – he has quite clearly said he does not support the trade policy of the Government.
The reason Downer and others are asking about the role of Peters, is because they will be trying to figure out what point there is in meeting a Foreign Minister who basically does not represent the NZ Government except in a very limited sphere of issues.
When you deal with Condi Rice, you have no doubt she is speaking on behalf of the United States of America. None at all. Likewise no doubt that Jack Straw speaks for the UK Government.
But a Foreign Minister who is not even a member of the Cabinet External Affairs Committee? What would you talk about – the weather?
The Dominion Post also points out that Clark and Cullen have both contradicted Peters on his request to Australia to help with the US relationship. So who does Downer listen to – the PM or the Foreign Minister?
UPDATE: And in another example this story which has Peters indicating New Zealand troops could extend their tour of duty in Afghanistan and the government might increase troop numbers but Clark contradicting him and saying this was not under consideration. Right hand and left hand do not seem to be talking to each other.