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How many diplomats do we need?

  • February 23rd, 2012

This week's Economist illustrates what it sees as India's under-powered foreign ministry with the following

"As a measure of India’s priorities, consider that the world’s second-most-populous country has no more diplomats than tiny New Zealand."

The Hon Murray McCully might argue that to have as many as mighty India, a country not usually accused of low head counts in anything, suggests the fault lies in our policy, not India's.

I suspect we should be getting good value from the  current numbers but have too many of the wrong sort, judged by the debacle of our policy on Fiji.  Or is that a case of politicians not listening to good advice?

Presumably we will see more contracting with Australia and other countries for consular work, 


  • Deborah Coddington
  • February 24th, 2012
  • 7:33 am

The Government could take a scythe to Crown Law next and slash $20 million off this bloated bureacracy.

  • Robert Miles
  • August 29th, 2012
  • 3:50 pm

One could be accused of hypocrisy, but foreign affairs, never showed interest in employing me and I suspect  I would be someone they disliked. In the first of my six applications to trade and industr,y in 1978,( I was interviewed three times), they said we'll definitely know during the Wellington interview session whether they'd employ me.  During the interview and the preliminary discusssion issue, the main issue seemed to be if you'd studied economics. However after my interview the personel officer, said they couldn't say definitely and they'd let me know in a few days. In terms of th related Ministry of Defence , on my first application was behind a grill with armed guards in the old building in about 1980 and they seemed to get very jumpy when I asked what the security clearance would entail. In was one of the few applications my father( a former RN Lieutenant and NZ Army Major) and his prep school teacher friends envinced any enthusiam about. The second time, I somewhat reluctantly applied under advice and pressure from SC Editors and had the preliminary interview from AO Rosanowski who I assumed when I was a third former at TBHS had been one of the sixth form English teacher and later head of TGHS, Rae Wilsons, favourites, ( apparently) Chris Rosanowski  who had got 400++/5 in SC, was not good at hard science and had to repeat the 6th form, probably in my fathers 6-2, ( which would have been dreadful). Nevetheless in the second interview the Maori Colonels were attempting to enlist some enthusiasm that I should join MOD as a AO in March 84!!!. I would start phoning around military bases checking whether supplies, part assignments and doco's had been delivered, working in the mail room, until it was determined whether , I could be trusted. Apparently they had other things in mind, for me.
 Given the likely political situation., I showed no enthusiasm. From what I knew of Labour, I suspected the whole defence field and Anzus to fall apart and also believed a relevant, realistic and affordable defence force that was useful and useable ( ie the last thing favoured by ANU, White or Beazley) could most effectively be worked for and argued for outside the defence force, ie pissing in to the tent , rather than out of it.
Nevertheless the diplomats disastorous handling of the Anzus crisis in 1983-5 is the most serious case against the current trade oriented NZ foreign affairs. At the time the foreign service officers clearly understood nothing about the relative importance the US and US armed forces attatched to our armed forces and the immense importance of tactical nuclear weapons for RN and USN in countering nuclear subs and possibly nuclear cruisers during the period of the cold war from 1959 to 1989. NZ Politicians and officials regarded our army as valued and useful to the US. The Reagan era high command had never heard of it , while they regarded our Orions as effective silent anti submarine hunters which were very nuclear capable. 

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