Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Barry Soper: Highly orchestrated trans-Tasman meeting had leaders walking on eggshells


They're Scott and Jenny to our Prime Minister and our first couple are Jacinda and Clark to their Prime Minister.

Never since the days of sleepovers by John Key at the Sydney mansion of Malcolm Turnbull has there been such trans-Tasman bonhomie.

To perhaps emphasise the point, Ardern even publicly flirted with her Aussie counterpart, saying to cocktail clinkers that she was sure he wouldn't mind being called in public what she calls him in private.

In fact, she admitted during the Covid crisis she called him more than she called her mother.

It's a far cry from February last year when she told a grinning Morrison, against the backdrop of the magnificent Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, his policy of deporting bad ass Kiwis was corroding their relationship.    

Over the past year the crims have caused much more trouble than they were doing back then but that now appears to be done and dusted, she's made her point and he's made his.

It's what's the often-repeated family and whanau do, it seems, have disagreements and get over them. Any differences were left on the welcome mat at the front door as they presented their united front.

Forget any frustration the Aussies may have had about us not joining the Five Eyes condemnation of China, they now only have eyes for each other.

But do they, is this a front simply because there's trouble on the horizon, and they will need each other?  

Morrison made mention of those who wanted to force them apart, to break their bond, but wouldn't elaborate, even though he was obviously meaning China and the myriad of problems that'll be presented on that front for both of our countries in the foreseeable future.

New Zealand is joining with Australia in bringing the Dragon to the table on a rules-based trading system rather than imposing 80 percent tariffs on their barley exports and the 200 percent on their wines.

Let's hope our eggs are in a few more baskets before we feel the Dragon's breath.

This fleeting trip to Queenstown, around 26 hours on the ground, was highly orchestrated with them both walking on eggshells.

Ardern almost broke one as her one and only press conference with her buddy wound up.

She was asked whether this country would like to deport the mosque terrorist to serve out his life in Australia just as the Australians do with our crims there.

Ardern, quick as a flash, said she believed the Morrison Government on occasion deports "Australian" criminals here, in clear reference to the fact they've spent most if not all of their lives there.

In the only unscripted question, I sought Scott Morrison's view on that.   Before he had a chance to upset the apple cart, she chimed in:  "Oh look we won't get into ad-libbing there Bri, Barry cos it's not fair on everyone else," and wrapped the press conference.

That shows how stage managed this whole day was, journalists having to submit their questions in advance, presumably to ensure the experienced leaders aren't blind-sided and risk undoing all the love that had been so carefully expressed.

Barry Soper is a New Zealand political journalist, and has been featured regularly on radio and television since the 1970s. Currently, Soper's main role is political editor at Newstalk ZB, a radio network in New Zealand.

1 comment:

Max Ritchie said...

It wasn’t really a press conference, then, was it? This government gets more controlling by the day. Parliament is next to useless under Speaker Mallard - ministers merely have to address questions, rather than actually answer them - and now journalists have to submit questions in advance. Combine that with a paid-for Fourth Estate and you have a mock democracy.