WikiLeaks cable: NZ PM sorts out Ministers' portfolios

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

February 2, 2006
NZ PM sorts out Ministers' portfolios

date:2006-02-02T07:15:00
source:Embassy Wellington
origin:06WELLINGTON90
destination:VZCZCXYZ0008 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHWL #0090 0330715 ZNY CCCCC
ZZH R 020715Z FEB 06 FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
2348 INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 0028
classification:CONFIDENTIAL
reference:05WELLINGTON807
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000090

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR-BWEISEL
STATE FOR EB/TPP/MTA-MBGOODMAN AND EAP/ANP-DRICCI
C...
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000090

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR-BWEISEL
STATE FOR EB/TPP/MTA-MBGOODMAN AND EAP/ANP-DRICCI
COMMERCE FOR ABENAISSA/4530/ITA/MAC/AP/OSAO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2016
TAGS: ETRD, PGOV, PREL, NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND'S PM SORTS OUT MINISTERS' PORTFOLIOS

REF: 05 WELLINGTON 807

(U) Classified by: Political-Economic Counselor Katherine B.
Hadda. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) New Zealand Prime Minister Clark has decided that Jim
Sutton, who on December 31 wrapped up his tenure as trade
negotiations minister, will remain a minister of state inside
Cabinet. Former Foreign Minister Phil Goff has taken over as
trade negotiations minister. The prime minister provided
Sutton with a face-saving way to be eased out of an important
role in government, while not answering critics who
questioned why she put out to pasture a seasoned and
effective trade negotiator at a critical stage in the World
Trade Organization talks.

2. (U) After the September 17 elections in which Sutton lost
his electorate seat but returned to Parliament by virtue of
his ranking on the Labour Party's at-large list, PM Clark
designated Goff as the next trade negotiations minister -- a
position that Sutton had held for six years. Clark on
December 22 appointed Sutton as a minister of state, and the
turnover in the trade negotiations portfolio was postponed to
December 31 to allow Sutton to participate in the Doha Round
negotiations in Hong Kong. In late January, Clark informed
government ministers that Sutton would remain in Cabinet, a
privilege not usually extended to ministers of state.

3. (C) The prime minister had given Goff the option of
removing from his portfolio the responsibility for
representing New Zealand at WTO talks, but he chose not to do
so, according to an adviser. Goff -- who attended the WTO
mini-ministerial in January in Davos, Switzerland -- also is
the minister of defense, disarmament and arms control,
Pacific Island affairs and trade.

4. (C) Sutton had lost touch with his electorate due in large
part to his globe-trotting role as trade negotiations
minister. At age 64, he is perceived to be in the twilight
of his legislative career. There also is no love lost
between the prime minister and Sutton, who in 1996 was one of
five Labour MPs who asked Clark to step aside as party
leader. Meanwhile, giving Goff the trade negotiations
portfolio was seen as a means to compensate him for
sacrificing his previous position as foreign minister, which
went to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as a prize
for his support in forming the government (reftel).

5. (U) Sutton will focus on bilateral and regional trade
issues, lead trade missions and back up Goff in the WTO talks.

6. (U) Biographies of Sutton and Goff can be found on Embassy
Wellington's website on the classified intranet:
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/wellington.
McCormick

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