My experience of Foreign Affairs staff is that they are super-smart, super-charming and super-useless. They don't produce a thing. Their job is professional schmoozing.

The ministry survives because it produces nothing tangible. We don't complain because we don't expect anything. The ministry keeps MPs onside through taking good care of them when they are overseas.

It's also very discreet about those who play up.

The one recent time the ministry was called upon to deliver proved an embarrassing failure. The error wasn't introducing ministers in the wrong order or forgetting to invite the ambassador. No, it was serious.


Let me remind and enrage you.

New Zealand Police charged Malaysian diplomat Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail with burglary and assault with intent to commit sexual violation 148 days ago.

Two weeks after the charges were laid Rizalman claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to Malaysia.

The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Murray McCully told us at the time that our Government had been strenuous in asking the Malaysian Government to waive immunity.

But that wasn't so. Ministry officials gave the Malaysian Government "the impression" that New Zealand had no problem with Rizalman returning home.

Officials took it upon themselves to act contrary to our Government's wishes and did so without advising ministry boss John Allen.

That's a shocking shambles, but what's truly appalling is that the ministry's incompetence has denied New Zealanders justice, denied the alleged victim and her family justice, and denied Rizalman his day in court.

We are yet to have an explanation.


The minister ordered an inquiry but it is yet to report. We now need an inquiry into why the inquiry is taking so long.

As to the return of Rizalman, not to worry, we thought, the ministry's on to it. Our people were talking to their people. It was in train.

And then success. McCully announced that Rizalman would be returning within "days". That was 94 days ago. Still no Rizalman.

Ordinarily, we should be having an inquiry into how it came to be that the minister misled us yet again.

But, sadly, with this case, and this ministry, it's what we have come to expect.

Besides, the inquiry that's already under way, which should have taken a week, has dragged on for months, with no explanation and no promised end date.


McCully's spokesman said this week that the minister would now not be commenting on the case because it's a "legal matter". All comment would come from the ministry.

Of course, it always was a legal matter. The minister chooses to dodge the issue. He refuses to front the shambles.

And what does Foreign Affairs say? That it is "working through technically complex legal arrangements". That is, leave it with us.

We are to be told nothing.

Justice delayed is justice denied. The alleged victim, her family, and all of us, have been denied justice. We have been denied an explanation.

Dirty politics? You bet.


The dirtiest.