Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Positive transparency

So far, we've only seen minor mentions of NZ in the WikiLeaks cablegate archive. A kiwi band entertaining Colonel Qadhafi; mention of our FTA negotiations with South Korea in a briefing to a US Congressional delegation; and a specific request for information on our position on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a nuclear-free Middle East buried in the scandalous request for diplomats to spy on the UN. But there's another one which has popped up today: a June 2009 report of a discussion between a US political officer at the London embassy and Commonwealth Political Director Amitav Banerji, which mentions us in passing in its discussion of the Commonwealth's approach to Fiji:

Noting that the Commonwealth had past the deadline set at the May CMAG meeting to re-consider full suspension of Fiji (reftel), Banerji said he was very “frustrated” that CMAG had not yet met to discuss Fiji, especially as the Commonwealth’s credibility could be damaged by not taking a decision as indicated at the last meeting. He said CMAG had not met purely for scheduling reasons, and that the Secretariat hopes to hold the meeting by the end of the month, though he was not confident it would be possible. He thought CMAG would move for full suspension of Fiji, intimating there had been difficult discussions at the previous CMAG meeting on Fiji with New Zealand pushing hard for full suspension and Malaysia wanting to ensure that Fiji did not withdraw from the Commonwealth to pre-empt a full suspension a la Zimbabwe.
(Emphasis added)

This doesn't actually add anything new - we'd all been told that our government has pushed for Fiji's suspension - but its good to have it confirmed. We know that on this issue at least, our government has been straight with us, and isn't simply bullshitting us in public while pursuing another agenda in private. And that's a Good Thing, an example of how transparency can help us maintain oversight of the government and hold it accountable if necessary.