In today's email we caught up on the latest diplomatic developments, along with some fiery speeches in parliament.
1. Ardern's latest Manus move
Newsroom's Sam Sachdeva reports from Manila that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Malcolm Turnbull met and agreed to background preparations for New Zealand to take some of Manus Island refugees.
Turnbull has previously rejected New Zealand's offer to resettle up to 150 refugees, but has come under growing pressure after both the UN Refugee Agency and the Australian Senate urged the Australian government to accept the deal.
The two countries were starting preparatory work to help smooth the resettlement process if Australia did take up the offer, Ardern said.
"We accept it will take some time to process those on Manus Island and on Nauru, a number of months, so working together now and early is important so that we are prepared if and when Australia takes up that offer...
“That is more progress than we have had on the offer in a number of years.”
In addition, Ardern said New Zealand would provide up to $3m from its official development assistance budget to help with the situation on Manus Island, working directly with Papua New Guinea and with international aid agencies like the Red Cross.
Pushing back against suggestions New Zealand should bypass Australia and deal directly with Papua New Guinea on resettlement, Ardern said it was crucial to work with our bigger neighbour as it held the relevant information.
“The only way resettlement in New Zealand can happen is via Australia...there is no other way for us to further this offer than via Australia.”
2. 'Do you have a nuclear bomb?'
Sam also reports on a slightly bizarre one-on-one meeting Ardern had with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on the fringes of the East Asia summit.
Duterte welcomed Ardern and then proceeded to talk about how tough customs officials in New Zealand were on anyone with raw food, citing one of his own visits.
"My companion brought some fish that she bought at the wharf there and everybody was warned not to bring anything, almost like do not bring anything that is alive, including you," he said.
He also questioned Ardern about New Zealand's nuclear capability, asking: “You do not have the atom bombs there, you don’t have nuclear bases there?”
After Ardern replied in the negative, Duterte said, “Yeah I suspect you have none. I didn’t see your police wearing guns”, and Ardern told him Kiwi police were not routinely armed.
"We consider ourselves a very peaceful nation and of course advocate for those principles and values."
There appeared to be some confusion when Ardern mentioned a new deal with Philippines Airlines to fly non-stop between Manila and Auckland, with Duterte instead talking about Iran.
“I don’t have anything against Iran, they’re old friends of ours, but...frankly the Sunnis and the Shiites, that’s what creating a problem for all of them.”
3. NZ to help in US mystery plan
Ardern and her Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters have hinted that an announcement from the United States involving New Zealand could be forthcoming, following Peters’ bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the East Asia Summit.
When asked about why he had met Tillerson, Peters told reporters in Manila: "I can't tell you about the details of it."
"Tillerson called, and he wants New Zealand to be engaged in something and we hope to be able to tell you something about it in the next few days.”
Peters said it was related to the Asia-Pacific region "and initiatives coming in the future".
However, Ardern batted away a question about whether it was related to US President Donald Trump’s tweet about a “major statement from the White House” after returning from his Asian trip.
But asked if it related to US President Donald Trump's tweet saying he would be making "a major statement from the White House upon my return to DC. Time and date to be set", she said: "One would be unwise to predict the nature of any of President Trump's tweets."
4. A good trip for Ardern
With the summits and bilateral meetings finishing overnight, Sam Sachdeva has assessed Jacinda Ardern's first foray into global summitry as largely positive.
He looks at the fancy footwork around the foreign buyers' ban, the attempts to soften the hard edges of the ISDS clauses (which the Greens and NZ First are still uneasy about) and the pressure she applied to Australia over the Manus Island refugee resettlement offer.
5. What Stuart Nash is planning
Newsroom's National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw interviewed new Police Minister Stuart Nash yesterday and found the new minister in an ebullient mood.
Nash explained why he is in favour of police pursuits, talked about the potential of a crack “flying squad” of officers and discussed how he would ramp up the force’s numbers by 1,800.
He also said he gets on well with Judith Collins and would call on her for advice.
"But the [National] Government had their turn, now it’s our turn," Nash said.
6. A couple of fiery speeches
Parliament's debates are sometimes worth watching for a speech by a senior politicians at an unusual time, or new politicians for the first time.
There were plenty of maiden speeches yesterday, none of which were spectacular (although the speech by National's Denise Lee is well worth a watch.)
However, former Attorney General Chris Finlayson's speech in the address-in-reply debate was Finlayson at his very best (or worst depending on your point of view).
He was blunt in his assessment of Winston Peters and National's foray into opposition, and also appeared to suggest to new Attorney General Andrew Little that an appointment to the bench for the National list MP would not go astray.
Finlayson did not stint on the praise for himself in a way that approached self-parody, and was appreciated by all. Here's the full speech in Hansard, and a few highlights below.
"I would much rather be on the other side than where I am here, but I have to say I'm in that category in the National Party that said 'we dodged a bullet', because while I have some regard for some of my New Zealand First parliamentary colleagues, I have absolutely no regard for the Rt Hon Winston Peters, and I have had no regard for him from the time I acted for the National Party caucus in the early 1990s, when he was removed from the caucus for disloyalty," Finlayson said.
"Old habits don't change very quickly. He has made absolutely no contribution to New Zealand, in my view, and it is becoming abundantly clear, as Judith Collins said recently, that the negotiations after the general election were essentially a fraud," he said.
"So I believe we've dodged a bullet, and I'm very happy that the National Party conducted itself with propriety and dignity."
On his own talents, here's Finlayson at his finest:
"I say to the Green Party that their candidate, Teall Crossen, was an excellent candidate who stayed totally on message, and I think we'll see more of her in the future. She was—myself excluded—the star of the show.
"I won't be able to talk about Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill, but please don't throw it out. It's a brilliant piece of work undertaken by me over the last six years."
Finlayson was then followed by David Parker, who had just arrived back from an exhausting series of high-stakes meetings in Da Nang over the CPTPP.
Parker's speech was his first in Parliament since the election of the Government and he was in celebratory mood over the foreign buyers ban. He also took a few digs at National and the speech was notable for some high flying rhetoric about the nature of global capitalism that tied in closely with New Zealand First's views.
"Now, what would have happened if National if had been re-elected and they had signed the TPP agreement? Would that have prevented policy space for a future Government to ban it? Yes, it would. So what that Government was doing was unnecessarily trading away the sovereign rights of a future New Zealand Government to stand up for New Zealanders and say, "Look, there are some problems with the excesses of global capitalism in the world," Parker said.
"There is this enormous transfer of wealth compounding every year, which means that the world's wealth—not just in New Zealand but even more so overseas—is increasingly intensively held by the one percent. Indeed, it's a fraction of one percent - and that fraction of one percent of the world owns more and more of the world every year.
"The National Party say, Well, it's OK. We think those one percenters from overseas, they should be able to come into New Zealand and outbid a New Zealander for our homes.' On this side of the House, we reject that. We think that is abhorrent. We think that one of the ways you have to protect a liberal open democracy connected to the rest of the world is you have to protect your local citizens. And in the Labour Party we are proud to stand up for New Zealanders. In fact, we are proud to put New Zealanders first, sir—proud to put New Zealanders first."
Parker also gave his most detailed description yet of the outcome of the CPTPP negotiations in Da Nang around the ISDS clauses, Pharmac and labour laws, and celebrated the better access for exporters in the regions.
"This is what a good Government can do in three weeks. We've got three years. By the end of three years, New Zealand is going to be a better country than it is now. We are going to be more prosperous, we're going to be fairer, and we're going to knock the rough edges off the extremes of global capitalism so that we protect the interests of New Zealanders and are a fairer, as well as more prosperous, society," he said in summary.
7. Elsewhere in the political economy
Change of guard - Pharmac announced it had promoted operations director Sarah Fitt to become CEO from January 6 after Steffan Crausaz announced his resignation to go into the private sector.
Growth uncertainty - ASB released its latest quarterly forecasts showing a weakening of growth in the second half of 2017, partly because of election uncertainty. It saw GDP growth rebounding to over three percent next year. ASB forecast slightly higher wage growth, slightly weaker house prices and lower migration in the wake of the formation of the new Government, although it was cautious given a lack of detail about new policies.
Nanny state? - Workplace relations minister Iain Lees-Galloway brushed off an attempt by National yesterday to introduce more flexibility into the Paid Parental Leave system during the current legislative process to extend leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks. National proposed allowing parents to split the leave between them and both stay at home for a shorter period. Lees-Galloway said his advice was that this would reduce the amount of time a baby spent with its primary caregiver, which wasn't healthy for the baby. He said he remained open to the idea, but preferred it was debated separately, rather than in the current bill under urgency. Labour would block the amendment, he said, and he rejected the accusation the approach smacked of nanny statism.
8. One fun thing
Sharon Murdoch's cartoons are often excellent and this one (via Twitter) on Winston Peters' attempts to litigate the pre-election release of information about his pension over-payments is well worth a click.
Murdoch introduces it like this: "#WinstonPeters does Winston Peters so well. But I reckon #TommyLeeJones shld play him in the movie of the leaked #superannuation over-payment details. It wld be big."