The Dim-Post

October 30, 2010

A reader asks

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:14 am

When was the last time a prime minister directly negotiated with a multinational?

Any thoughts? Maybe it’s the kind of thing that happens all the time but we never hear about it because there’s no press release issued.

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27 Comments »

  1. I think it was Anderton who dealed with the Hollywood types under Clark. He had the industry dveloment role I think. I always thought he did well at that.

    But maybe there’s not all that much opportunity for PMs to get involved since multinationals putting that much mnoey in doen’t happen often.

    Comment by NeilM — October 30, 2010 @ 6:25 am

  2. Clark was pretty close to hi value land deals like shania twain so its not that strange

    Comment by leon — October 30, 2010 @ 7:10 am

  3. Its probably the only time in NZs recent history we have had a PM with the commercial nouse to be able to do deals, the political backbone to take the risk and the smarts to stitch up what is a pretty good deal.
    I still cant get my head around Labours stance on this, perhaps Goff’s silence on this and letting Mallard lead the charge is cementing his position as leader.

    Comment by David — October 30, 2010 @ 7:49 am

  4. He would have needed less soap to cleanse himself afterwards than say somebody who negotiated trade agreements with China and Iran.

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — October 30, 2010 @ 7:49 am

  5. NeilM,

    Trevor Mallard was Economic Development minister during the LOTR shoot.

    leon,

    Interesting theory. Any actual, you know, facts to back it up? ‘Cause even this hostile review of the Shania Twain purchase of Motatpu and Mt Soho stations doesn’t mention Helen Clark anywhere: http://www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/07/03.htm.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — October 30, 2010 @ 8:00 am

  6. Andrew, its always a pleasure to hear from you. Big Helen took every opportunity to parade around on Shania’s hill country station at the time of the purchase to get photo opportunity time with Shania for prime time news. That’s pretty close to the action.

    Comment by leon — October 30, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  7. The answer turns, I think, on the definition of “negotiate”.

    All prime ministers meet often with executives from multinationals who tell them what their intentions are in NZ and what policy changes if any might encourage them to increase (or decrease) their investments here.
    Prime ministers might then comment on that, or get their ministers to, and a letter might be sent back, and there might be a further letter … or the ideas raised in the meetings might just get integrated into future policy development without acknowledgment.
    This is not only to be expected but essential given NZ’s low savings rate and dependence on foreign capital.

    However, as far as I can remember, the idea of a prime minister being in the room, looking them in the eye, negotiating backwards and forwards, over a short period of time … well, as far as I know, that is extremely unusual, mostly because of the sheer political recklessness of it. If it goes wrong, you as prime minister are in the room when it goes wrong and are therefore accountable.

    The situation we’ve seen this week relies on:
    1. The prime minister believing themselves capable of carrying out the negotiations
    2. Their staff believing their prime minister to be capable of carrying out the negotiations, so not scheduling things to prevent it
    3. The prime minister in fact being capable of carrying out the negotiations when they began
    4. The prime minister being prepared to carry out the negotiations (ie, not being so haughty as to think such negotiations were below his or her station.)

    In my view, only Key, of recent PMs, gets four yesses to these questions.
    Clark would have been yes, yes, yes and no.
    Shipley would have been yes, yes, no and no.
    Bolger would have been yes, no, yes and no.
    Moore would have been yes, no, yes and yes.
    Palmer would have been yes, yes, no and no.
    Lange would have been yes, yes, no and no.
    Muldoon would have been “The SIS has got pictures of you and I’ll change the law to make you make the movies here.”

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — October 30, 2010 @ 8:12 am

  8. Muldoon would have been “The SIS has got pictures of you and I’ll change the law to make you make the movies here.”

    I’m thinking the Comalco deal may have had Prime Ministerial involvement and that it must have been either Muldoon or Lange that signed off on it.

    Comment by danylmc — October 30, 2010 @ 8:18 am

  9. leon,

    In the same way as she turned up at netball matches and rugby tests … without having anything to do with them being hosted. The question was not “have previous PM’s bathed in the reflected glory of celebrity?”, it was “when was the last time a prime minister directly negotiated with a multinational?”. So, again … facts?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — October 30, 2010 @ 8:52 am

  10. Andrew,

    I was making the observation that one shouldn’t be surprised that heads of state involve themselves with the activities of corporations as it happens to varying degrees all the time here and around the world, such as Clarks photo-op with Twain or her fronting a NZ episode of an international travel show on TV through to Obama and BP.
    Next time I’ll try to only discuss things within the strict semantic of the sentence.

    Comment by leon — October 30, 2010 @ 9:43 am

  11. It’s “something that leaders do all the time” versus “something that leaders hardly ever do”. It’s “after” versus “during”.

    If Clark had negotiated wth Twain, that would be similar. But she didn’t. So it’s different.

    Not a difficult distinction to grasp.

    Comment by sammy — October 30, 2010 @ 9:49 am

  12. “Cometh the moment, cometh the man.”

    Three years ago it would have been Cullen doing the negotiation because he was the money man and had the confidence of his PM. Earlier it would have been Birch and this time it was Key.. who just happened to be PM. The circumstances were unusual, rapid, murky, required major clout and instant decision making and had uncertain outcomes.. and that really falls into Key’s area.

    JC

    Comment by JC — October 30, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  13. A national leaders involvement in the commercial affairs within his or her nation state is continuous and the exact level of involvement is determined by circumstances, as previously noted, so while it may be unusual for Key to be so involved in the Hobbit negotiations I’m surprised that anyone is surprised that he was given the high international profile of the dispute (Minister for Tourism) and the direct political confrontation (unions and the left vs. the govt on the right) involved. However if you won’t to talk within strict semantic channels fill your boots.

    Comment by leon — October 30, 2010 @ 9:59 am

  14. want

    Comment by leon — October 30, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  15. In the dark recesses of my memory I seem to remember Muldoon doing the deal to buy DC10s for AirNZ when everyone else was going Boeing. He definitely came away with the souvenir model planes.

    Comment by EuroKiwi — October 30, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  16. Rootn tootn hootn – I remember travelling with King Dick who always took a very direct approach with provincial development, in sense the Andrew described. Leon’s perspective, while gallant and brave, is in fairness probably shared by only by his little brother and his maths tutor.
    Incidentally, in the years before his death, Reagan often attributed his approach to negotiations as “being based on my understanding of early colonial leaders”.

    Comment by k.jones — October 30, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  17. Now that I think about it, didn’t Helen Clark front the second attempt to get the Rugby WC here to NZ?

    My recall is she led the team that did the Dublin presentation with Michael Jones etc.

    JC

    Comment by JC — October 30, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  18. JC, that was different though as there were no unions involved.

    Comment by leon — October 30, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  19. @JC

    Think your right, but it was a BID to HOST the RWC, not a negotiation. As we know the IRB don’t negotiate they take it all…

    @leon, Rugby UNION, you failed.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — October 30, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  20. And the left claim Rugby as their own. Hot crumpets in masters rooms after evensong eh Andy?

    Comment by leon — October 30, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  21. Rugby UNION, you failed.

    Deliberately inflammatory comment:
    UNION of Soviet Socialist Republics… and he shall be judged by the company he keeps.

    Comment by Phil — October 30, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  22. [...] Dim-Post reader asked: When was the last time a prime minister directly negotiated with a [...]

    Pingback by PMs negotiating with corporates | Kiwiblog — October 30, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  23. “The NZRU’s successful presentation using Prime Minister Helen Clark, All Black captain Tana Umaga and the iconic Colin Meads was key in deciding votes in the crucial second ballot,”

    But its the same priciple.. a PM getting down and dirty, personal downside for failure, whacking the rights of the booth holders at the rugby grounds and even an implied set of law changes to get things done, eg, changes to the consent process for stadia.

    I liked this statement:

    “The NZRU’s successful presentation using Prime Minister Helen Clark, All Black captain Tana Umaga and the iconic Colin Meads was key in deciding votes in the crucial second ballot,”

    Clark had her Luca Brassi in C Meads and Key had Gerry.

    JC

    Comment by JC — October 30, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

  24. How about buy-back of Rail from Toll Holdings, as it certainly involved Cullen, if not Clark?

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — October 30, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

  25. If Bolger had tried to negotiate with Warner Bros, he would have adopted the accent…”I tawt I taw a puddy tat.” “you wascally wabbit” “ondalay ondalay, arriba arriba”

    Comment by Bea — October 31, 2010 @ 12:05 am

  26. Would Fonterra count as a multinational?

    I bet there has been some Prime Ministerial haggling there over time.

    Comment by Gregor White — November 1, 2010 @ 8:52 am

  27. Bea, I need you to come and clean my monitor and keyboard please.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — November 1, 2010 @ 1:12 pm


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