Viewing cable 05WELLINGTON813
Title: NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES NEW CABINET

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05WELLINGTON8132005-10-19 06:27:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Wellington
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000813 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR D (FRITZ), EAP/ANP, EAP/EP, EAP/RSP, INR/EAP 
NSC FOR VICTOR CHA AND MICHAEL GREEN 
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISA LIZ PHU 
PACOM FOR J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/18/2015 
TAGS: PGOV PREL NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES NEW CABINET 
 
REF: WELLINGTON 806 
 
(U) Classified by: Charge d'Affaires David R. Burnett, for 
reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
¶1. (C) New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark on October 19 
unveiled a new Cabinet dominated by familiar faces, with 
veteran members of Parliament named to the top seven 
positions.  None of the Cabinet assignments is particularly 
controversial.  However, the one controversial choice -- the 
appointment of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as 
foreign minister outside of Cabinet, announced October 17 -- 
continued to stir public debate.  The naming of Phil Goff, 
the former foreign minister, to several externally-focused 
cabinet positions, including trade and defense, ensures his 
continued hand in foreign policy and, perhaps, a role in 
serving as a check to Peters.  Meanwhile, Clark also signaled 
a heightened concern for national security by also naming 
Goff to minister of defense, the first high-ranking Cabinet 
member in years to get that assignment.  Annette King, who 
numbers among Clark's closest confidantes, becomes minister 
of police and the first-ever associate minister of defense. 
End summary. 
 
Goff taking one for the team 
---------------------------- 
¶2. (C) If Cabinet were an airplane, then Phil Goff must feel 
as if he were asked to exchange his first-class seat for one 
in coach.  In relinquishing his prime foreign affairs 
portfolio to Winston Peters -- in what many assume was a 
trade for New Zealand First's essential support in forming a 
Labor-led government (reftel) -- Goff now takes on an array 
of lower status externally-oriented ministerial assignments: 
trade, trade negotiations (when the incumbent Minister Jim 
Sutton retires the portfolio at the end of the year following 
the Doha Round talks), defense, and disarmament and arms 
control. He continues as minister of Pacific Island affairs. 
 
Yet still influential 
---------------------- 
¶3. (C) In explaining Goff's place in the new Cabinet, Prime 
Minister Clark asserted that Goff's vast experience and 
credibility in international relations would be invaluable in 
his new portfolios. Although his mandate no longer includes 
the formulation of foreign policy per se, he nonetheless will 
have a significant influence on external policies.  Given 
that trade is essentially the load-bearing column of New 
Zealand's foreign policy platform, Goff's role in steering 
trade policy and trade negotiations enables him to continue 
exerting influence on important foreign policy issues. 
 
¶4. (SBU) Cabinet is the final arbiter on foreign affairs 
matters, and Goff remains among the top five cabinet members. 
While Peters manages the foreign affairs portfolio, he will 
be absent from Cabinet unless asked.  Thus, he may have 
little influence on its policy debates and decisions.  One 
academic criticized the appointment outside Cabinet as 
sending a bad signal to the rest of the world on the 
importance that New Zealand attaches to its foreign affairs. 
Others questioned the appropriateness of appointing a foreign 
minister who has been known to oppose immigration, 
specifically of Asians. 
 
A safeguard to Peters? 
---------------------- 
¶5. (C) Goff's capture of the other externally-oriented 
portfolios could indicate that Clark views Goff as a check or 
safeguard to prevent possible free-lance activity by Peters 
in his role as foreign minister. Goff has more experience 
than Peters in the conduct of foreign relations and the 
formulation of foreign policy.  Nevertheless, Peters' 
position outside Cabinet leaves him unshackled to Labour's 
policies and agenda.  Ultimately, as New Zealand First's 
leader, he has the ability to bring down the Labour-led 
government. 
 
A better reception at Defense 
------------------------------ 
¶6. (C) New Zealand defense officials will likely welcome 
Goff's appointment to the defense portfolio, replacing Mark 
Burton who becomes justice minister. Burton's time in charge 
of the portfolio was troubled by controversy over procurement 
problems and criticism for failing to maintain the country's 
defense capabilities.  Goff enjoys greater credibility on 
global affairs and has a "safe pair of hands." 
The remaining distribution of portfolios 
---------------------------------------- 
¶7. (C) The troublesome police portfolio has gone to Annette 
King, along with that of State Services that includes 
coordinating responsibility for race relations. Steve Maharey 
takes the education portfolio. As expected, Deputy Prime 
Minister Michael Cullen keeps the finance portfolio, but also 
takes charge of tertiary education.  The new health minister 
is Pete Hodgson, who had been training for the role as an 
associate. Together with Goff, these top-tier ministers are 
widely recognized as the most accomplished. 
 
¶8. (C) Cabinet's third-ranked minister, Jim Anderton -- 
leader of the Progressive Party, which is in coalition with 
Labour -- has been handed agriculture, biosecurity and 
fisheries.  Trevor Mallard, formerly education minister, 
takes over the economic development portfolio, previously 
held by Anderton. Lianne Dalziel -- returning to Cabinet 
after a spell on the back benches -- is the new minister of 
commerce. At number 15, she is the highest-ranked of the new 
Cabinet ministers.  There are five other new faces among 
Cabinet's 21 members. 
 
¶9. (U) Other changes include Damien O'Connor, who previously 
was a minister outside Cabinet and is now the minister of 
corrections and minister of tourism.  David Cunliffe, who was 
also a minister outside Cabinet, takes the immigration 
portfolio.  Nanaia Mahuta is customs minister, and Clayton 
Cosgrove is the minister for building issues. 
 
¶10. (C) The big mover into the Cabinet ranks is David Parker, 
who is one of the few Labour MPs with a legal background. 
Parker becomes energy minister, transport minister, attorney 
general and the minister responsible for climate change. 
Burnett