Q+A: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern interviewed by Corin Dann

Press Release – TVNZ

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refused to criticise former Foreign Minister Minister Murray McCullys move to co-sponsor a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, but questions the process. We should absolutely use …Q+A: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern interviewed by Corin Dann

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refused to criticise former Foreign Minister Minister Murray McCully’s move to co-sponsor a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, but questions the process.

‘We should absolutely use the voice that we had in a critical position within the UN at that time — a particularly critical position at that time — to, yes, take a stand. The only issue we’ve raised is whether or not a process could’ve been gone through to involve at least the government on that.’

CORIN Putting a cabinet minute, for context for viewers, into the coalition agreement puts a pretty strong signal, basically, that you’re saying he was out of line. So the message to the world is that he was on his own, it was a rogue decision, it wasn’t New Zealand’s position.

JACINDA I disagree.

CORIN But how else can it be interpreted?

JACINDA Simply that whenever a government makes a decision, it makes one as a whole. Minuting that it had made a decision as a whole was a simple request.

CORIN That’s all that Winston Peters is trying to get at by putting that minute in there?

JACINDA Well, that’s a question for Mr Peters. That’s certainly the point that we’ve made. It would’ve taken no extra time necessarily to make sure it was seen to be an all-of-government decision.

The United Nations Security Council passed the resolution in December last year.

Please find the full transcript attached and the link to the interview here.
Q + A
Episode 37
JACINDA ARDERN
Interviewed by CORIN DANN

JACINDA I think, actually, all I’m doing is restoring a role that we’ve played in the past. We have been traditionally advocates on issues that we feel strongly about. You can reflect on our history, I guess, with nuclear free. When there is an occasion for New Zealand to use its voice on an important issue, we have. And I think it’s incumbent on us to use the international stage to particularly be advocates on behalf of our region. There are those around us who will be affected dramatically by climate change, and I feel a sense of responsibility to use the stage and the forum that we have to raise their plight as well.

CORIN So on the issue of Manus Island, are you looking for a Tampa moment — the Tampa moment when I refer to Helen Clark. You talk about bringing it back to the way things were whereby you send a message to the world where New Zealand sits in terms of its values.

JACINDA Actually, in that case and others, I think it’s as simple as just doing the right thing.

CORIN That’s it?

JACINDA That’s it.

CORIN And you’re prepared, from what we’ve seen this week, to upset Australia, to potentially put them into a difficult position and for them to kick back at New Zealand if that what it takes?

JACINDA Yeah, look, and that’s going to occur from time to time. I think we have to constantly be prepared that, yes, sometimes when we take a view, it may not always be looked upon or welcomed, necessarily, by those that we’re interacting with. But again, we’ve got to just simply do what we believe to be right. On Manus, I saw an opportunity for us, actually, to play a role to assist Australia, but also to play a role in fulfilling our international obligations when it comes to refugees. We’ve done that. Yes, it has received pushback, but I still believe we’ve done the right thing.

CORIN On some other issues that I want to bring up, and around the issue, I guess, on that stance being progressive, was Murray McCully, when he was the foreign minister, was he out of line to co-sponsor the measure condemning Israeli settlements? Because he did that— Just for some context, he did that without cabinet approval.

JACINDA Yeah, indeed. And putting aside the issue, the only question that we’ve raised is whether or not there could’ve been a bit more of a process built around it. And that’s the only—

CORIN You can’t put aside the issue. Do you support him in what he did? Because a lot of progressive, left-leaning New Zealanders would’ve actually been pretty proud of Murray McCully taking that stance. Do you personally support his stance?

JACINDA We should absolutely use the voice that we had in a critical position within the UN at that time — a particularly critical position at that time — to, yes, take a stand. The only issue we’ve raised is whether or not a process could’ve been gone through to involve at least the government on that.

CORIN Putting a cabinet minute, for context for viewers, into the coalition agreement puts a pretty strong signal, basically, that you’re saying he was out of line. So the message to the world is that he was on his own, it was a rogue decision, it wasn’t New Zealand’s position.

JACINDA I disagree.

CORIN But how else can it be interpreted?

JACINDA Simply that whenever a government makes a decision, it makes one as a whole. Minuting that it had made a decision as a whole was a simple request.

CORIN That’s all that Winston Peters is trying to get at by putting that minute in there?

JACINDA Well, that’s a question for Mr Peters. That’s certainly the point that we’ve made. It would’ve taken no extra time necessarily to make sure it was seen to be an all-of-government decision.

CORIN Moving on to other issues around, again, your tone and how you want to be a leader on the world stage. Could you see a role where that view you have about wanting to make a difference would be extended to, say, increased peace-keeping roles, a slightly different role for our military?

JACINDA And I’d say, by and large, we tend to play that role now. You look at some of the assistance and capacity building we provide on the world’s stage, it is often within that frame of providing assistance, training, support, aid. That is our tradition. Of course, we have to have capabilities that go beyond that. But when you look at our history, even in conversations I’ve had while I’ve been here around our history in places like Timor-Leste, that has been our foundation.

CORIN I mean, have you given the broader issue of where you want New Zealand to go in that global context a lot of thought? I mean, to be fair, you’ve only been in the job a very short time. And all of a sudden you’re here, making big comments, big statements on the world stage. Is it something that you have personally thought about a lot?

JACINDA Yes, I have. It was some time ago, but I was involved in an international political youth organisation that did have a voice as a consultative status within the UN. We did have a voice, to a certain degree, on the international stage. At times, I represented New Zealand. At times, I represented that organisation as a whole. I’ve certainly given thought to what responsibility we have as members of an international community, where we use our voice and why, and where we use it in a way that’s constructive. We’ve got to keep in mind that often we’re commenting on issues that we may not ourselves be personally experiencing, conflicts that are complex, so making sure that we have some understanding and really take a partnership role but also be a strong voice.

CORIN But do you feel as a younger leader, that you are bringing a different voice and that you have a different take on things?

JACINDA Yes. Yes, I do. I mean, sitting around the table today as we talked about security issues, yes, I raised North Korea, I raised the South-China Sea, but I raised climate change, and I was only one of two that did. Yes, I do take a different perspective, but it’s one as a member of an international community. Regardless of my age or generation, I hope to speak on behalf of New Zealand and its view as an international player.

CORIN As an international player, we have troops in Taji in Iraq still. Have you formed a view on whether we need to be pulling them out, whether that is something we should be continuing to do?

JACINDA I want to take time on that decision. Of course, the mandate is up for renewal next year, and I want to use that time to make sure I fully appreciate and understand the role we’ve played there and what demands on us there may be. But I want to make sure it’s considered.

CORIN Have you changed your views in any way since you’ve been prime minister, since you’ve received the security briefings? Presumably you now know about the threat of local terrorism if there is at all. I mean, John Key, that was a big issue for him. Has it changed your view now that you’re seeing the reports?

JACINDA Keeping in mind I’ve had essentially more or less three weeks in the job, I want to do more analysis. I want to spend time taking advice from more people. I do think we have to keep in mind that when it comes to the issue of terrorism and violent extremism, that there are a range of roles to play. And we’ve got to make sure that, yes, we acknowledge that we have a contribution to make but in a number of ways.

CORIN Is there a threat to New Zealanders, in your view? Because a lot of people argued that John Key, for example, might have overplayed that for particular reasons he needed to get spy legislation through. Now you’ve seen it, how much of a threat is there?

JACINDA I want to see more. I’m still reserving my judgement.

CORIN Can New Zealand do more to help the Rohingya people and the issue with Myanmar? Can we do more there?

JACINDA I’d like to think so. There’s more conversations that I think need to be had. We’re using diplomatic channels to have them. Certainly, there’s an enormous need.

CORIN Is there a possibility that we will make some sort of contribution to some sort of global effort?

JACINDA As I say, we’re following diplomatic channels. Certainly, I’d like to think that we would be in a role to be supportive in finding resolution, but there’s a bit of work to be done there.

CORIN Just on the issue with China, you did speak with Premier Li. Was there any discussion—? Did he raise or did you raise the issue of the fact that Labour clearly wants to restrict farmland sales? That’s been a big issue for the Chinese.

JACINDA No, I didn’t raise it, but nor did it come up. Probably, I wouldn’t have expected it to come up either, given that China itself also exercises various restrictions as well and I think probably would be sympathetic to the fact that, yes, we need foreign direct investment but we also need to protect our domestic housing market to make sure that it remains affordable.

CORIN What have you learned while you’ve been here on this summit? Has it been a big eye-opener?

JACINDA As I say, I mean, it was a few years ago and at a slightly different level, but I’ve certainly played a role in international forums before. So I certainly had a sense of the scale, the diversity of the issues that may arise. The most important element of this for me has been what more can we do to make sure that New Zealand uses the voice it has to best effect?

CORIN Have you learnt, though, that your words when you come down, when you speak to media at stand-ups, that they do follow through and that you can sometimes get kickback, which we’ve seen from Australia?

JACINDA Oh, I would expect that. I absolutely expect that when we take differing positions on an issue, that we may see a response to that. Does that deter me?

CORIN A reasonable response, do you think?

JACINDA I still maintain the position that I had at the very beginning. I’m not dissuaded from the position we’ve taken.

CORIN You don’t think they’re being reasonable?

JACINDA I think they’ve got a position, and from the beginning, when it comes to, for instance, the issue they’ve had that making sure that the American deal is followed through on, I appreciate that, I understand that. I’ve put up a few alternatives to try and work through that. But I still maintain the position that we have. But we’ve put up, also, some alternative solutions.

CORIN Is it a position that you feel is more compassionate than they are taking?

JACINDA I’m not going to make that judgement. All I can do is represent a view on behalf of New Zealand. It’s not for me to judge their position.


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