Kapi-Mana News : March 12th 2013
11 KAPI-MANA NEWS, MARCH 12, 2013 OPINION Key misses golden opportunity TALKING POLITICS GORDON CAMPBELL The stuff of diplomacy routinely consists of conscious signals and symbolic gestures, but every now and then it also calls for good gut instincts about what is appropriate. The coincidence last week that Prime Minister John Key and a trade delegation were touring South America just when one of its leading political figures died of cancer could have been seen as a golden opportunity. The funeral of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela offered a chance for Key to mingle with almost every political leader on the continent instead of meeting only the leaders of Chile, Colom- bia and Brazil, who featured on his original itinerary. Instead, the prime minister and his advisers chose to deliver what could easily be seen as a snub. Key stuck to his schedule and skipped the Chavez funeral. To the Venezuelans in particu- lar, the diplomatic message is likely to have gone down badly. Consider, say, if a New Zealand leader happened to be in Africa when Nelson Mandela died. Surely, there would be no hesitation then about breaking the itinerary and paying our respects. Not in this case, though. Though Chavez and Mandela were quite different sorts of politicians, they each have been the dominant political figures of their generation, on their respect- ive continents. Chavez was not popular in Washington. By pointedly not attending the Chavez funeral, Key has risked sending a message to a continent now emerging from the shadow of American political and economic dominance that for New Zealand at least, the opinion of Washington is still paramount. Sticking to the original schedule could hardly be justified in trade terms, either. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, Venezuela was New Zealand s second largest dairy export market in the world last year. Even so, New Zealand does not have so much as an honorary consul in Venezuela, which imported $433 million of our goods last year. That amount far exceeds the other countries on Key s Latin America trip: Mexico $280m, Chile $77m, Brazil $81m and Colombia bringing up the rear, with a tiny $13m sliver of our annual trade. There were other odd aspects of the South American trip. In recent years, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has been intent on restructuring our diplomatic corps in a controversial (and so far, largely futile) quest for savings. In the process, New Zealand has closed a couple of its diplo- matic posts in Europe. Last week, however, Key announced his desire to open a New Zealand embassy in South America, and to locate it in Bogota, Colombia -- despite Colombia being, on those current trade figures, among the smallest of our markets in South America. Robert Muldoon once famously declared that for us, diplomacy is trade. If so, and if we are serious about fostering trade with South America, we need to adjust to diplomatic reality. South America no longer sees itself as Washington s backyard. Within the likes of the Trans- Pacific Partnership trade talks, New Zealand cannot afford to be seen as a virtual American surro- gate. For all his failings -- real and alleged -- Chavez embodied that new sense of South American pride and independence. Argua- bly, it wouldn t have hurt either our trade efforts or our diplomatic credibility for our leader to have attended his funeral. LETTERS LETTERS GUIDE The Kapi-Mana News welcomes letters from readers. Letters will be published at the editor's discretion. Please keep correspondence to 250 words or less. We reserve the right to edit for brevity and sense. Pen names are not acceptable. If there is a good reason you can't put your name to your letter, phone the editor. For identification not publication, please include an address not a box number and if possible a daytime contact phone number. Send letters to The Editor, PO Box 50 012, Porirua, phone 237 8118, or email email@example.com. Then as you turned into Prosser Street from Titahi Bay Road, look to your right. You can see why the cycle route wasn t run in a clockwise direction. The approach to the junction is in appalling condition, due to lack of maintenance, sub-standard materials and poor application. Same again as you turn from Prosser Street into Raiha Street. If you didn t do the HOSPI this year, do it next year. But meantime, take a cycle or drive in the opposite direction, and see for yourself the neglected condition of our roads. We can see and feel roads when we use them. Think what the infrastructure out of sight must be like? Leaking or non-existent stormwater pipes? Leaking water storage tanks? Undersized water storage tanks? If this council shelved its grandiose plans for a new head office (why do we need one when our mayor is driving the city to amalgamation?) and city centre revitalisation (news flash PCC, the face of retailing has changed, and the private sector should undertake speculative developments), we could have good roads, water, storm water and sewerage systems, and a rate reduction next year. ANDREW WELLUM, Camborne. PCC roading manager Geoff Marshall responds: Road markings are repainted on an annual basis and this is in progress across the city. Work is scheduled to be complete by the end of April and will include all the road markings in Kenepuru Drive. The condition of the line markings in Kenepuru Drive varies. Some areas are good, most are satisfactory while some are very worn. The section of Kenepuru Drive between Raiha Street and Ambulance Drive was resealed in February and is generally in good condition but with some loose chip. Loose chip is inevitable in the first few weeks after a road has been resealed. Raiha Street south to Rembrandt Avenue is scheduled to be reconstructed in the coming financial year. The remainder of Kenepuru Drive is in good condition. The organisers of the cycle event ran it in an anticlockwise direction to reduce the number of right turns at the busy intersections along the route as left turns are much safer for cyclists. I would not recommend cycling this circuit in a clockwise direction. Mistaken identity Editor, An interesting article by Kris Dando about the Tawa Turtles cricket match against the touring Australian Over-60s team at Linden Park on February 17. Unfortunately the photograph accompanying the article was not taken at Linden Park. It was taken the following day at Karori Park when the Australian team played a Wellington Vintage team captained by Ewen Chatfield and including ex-first class players Brian Cederwall and Ross Ormiston. That Wellington team also included Grant Baker but the Australian team was captained by Stirling Hamann rather than Ross Chapman. The reason I know this is that I umpired the game. EVAN WATKIN, Whitby. We stand corrected. Any confusion caused is regretted. The image information was supplied to us -- Editor. Waste of money? Editor, I can predict what the main recommendations of the recently announced $100,000 review of council expenditure will be. 1) That the council undertakes more $100,000 reviews. 2) That all wage rates, fees and allowances and working environments at the council be improved. CAROLE NAYLOR, Papakowhai. ONLINE COMMENTS: Mayor slams media for Porirua's image BenMelb: Don t blame the media for Porirua being crummy. Blame you and your council. I was out there recently and can tell you Porirua CBD is the only place in Wellington where I feel unsafe... The Hutt Valley gets bad media attention too, do I see Ray Wallace and Wayne Guppy having a cry about the media? No. They accept they have problems to fix and are doing it. Not playing the blame game. Phil O sophical: As a youngster living in Tawa in the 1950s and 60s, I used to visit Porirua city centre regularly and always felt perfectly safe...Twodecades later, however, in the late 1970s, I visited the CBD half a dozen times and felt distinctly uncomfortable each and every time, especially the crowds of young kids roaming about hassling you for money and fags . . . Perhaps you need a dedicated police presence to deter this kind of behaviour. Ngati Toa elders take issue with mayor Pa girl: Liz Kelly does not have the backing of all of Ngati Toa. I didn t vote for you Liz, and I still won t if you run again for mayor. I applaud the mayor for his apology to Ms Kelly -- she could learn from him and apologise to the countless people she has offended lately. Fat Bob: Sounds like a threat to democracy from the iwi. Often nobody better informed about being dysfunctional though! Stu Filo: It doesn t say the mayor had apologised to Liz on this article. Only that he acknowledges that he made a mistake. Our council is a White Ribbon council, our mayor Nick opened it for us last year under the canopies. To tell the dep mayor to Shut her mouth in the chambers, and for other male cr not to say anything is not a good look...Ihope he shows his true leadership and makes a public apology to Liz.
March 5th 2013
March 19th 2013