Pissing off our best friends

I have often praised Helen Clark for the way she has managed the trans-tasman relationship with John Howard, despite their political differences.  But she is trashing a lot of that good work with her petty attack on the Australian Foreign Minister.

First of all, the Australian Government has every right to be annoyed that their military are being treated like hostile insurgents insteaad of our closest ally. They have done nothing wrong except help the profitability of Air NZ.  Of course they are going to announce they will no longer use Air NZ, rather than go through the humiliation of the New Zealand Government defining when their money is good enough for us, as if they were Cuba.

A sensible Prime Minister would realise that Australia are the innocent party in the communication stuff up between MFAT and Ministers, and would send a quiet signal that no offence was intended, and we did not want to politicise their transport arrangements.

Instead Clark makes a personal attack on Downer, and brings up the red herring of his speech to a National Party conference.   Now the first thing to recall is that Helen Clark herself was informed of the speech in advance, and asked if she had any problems with it.  So for her to cry foul now, is cheap partisan tricks to avoid the issue of her Government’s hysterical over reaction to the Air NZ issue.

She then went on to say:

“It’s something we have refrained from doing over the 7½ years I’ve been in Government – I can tell you I have had numerous invitations from the Australian Labour Party to do the same.”

This is another red herring.  She is the Prime Minister and her counterpart is Howard, not Downer.

Furthermore her party has invited the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK and a state premier from Australia to their conferences.  She also accepts taxpayer funding to attend meetings of centre-left world leaders.

And finally I know several NZ Labour MPs, and in all probability Ministers, have attended Australian Labor Party conferences.

I also note that Clark talks about expecting Air NZ to be responsive to the national interest.  Air NZ is not an SOE.  It is a NZX listed company with private shareholders.

Oh just seen this story this morning,  where Clark now denies she had been briefed by Downer on the conference invitation.  So now she is calling Downer a liar.  Well of course we all know how bad her memory is, but perhaps they could release the official notes of that meeting.

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