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Morrison a better PM partner for us

Opinion Piece

A week of political turmoil has left New Zealand dodging a possible bullet and US President Donald Trump facing increasing pressure.

Over the Tasman, Malcolm Turnbull has lost the premiership to his treasurer Scott Morrison. While little known to the general public here, Morrison has a direct connection to New Zealand and is seen as a better partner for this country than the hardliner Peter Dutton who instigated the coup.

Morrison worked here while heading Tourism and Sport New Zealand, and his win has been greeted positively by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her deputy Winston Peters.

While both have wisely kept out of Australian politics there is some concern here at the uncertainty in Australia, our closest bilateral partner.

This makes an incredible fifth different prime minister in five years, all of them rolled by their own party. The last prime minister to avoid that fate and complete his term was John Howard in 2007.

It has left Australia looking something like a banana republic, but it would be unwise for New Zealanders to gloat over any unrest in what is still our second largest trading partner.

For Trump, last week was a disaster with two former top aides, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, in court.

Of the two, the most serious would be his former “fixer” Cohen pleading guilty to eight charges and saying that Trump told him to buy off porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy bunny Karen McDougal.

It puts him in the same situation as his predecessors Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton over Watergate and Monica Lewinsky respectively.

Nixon at least had the grace to fall on his sword, Trump definitely will not — claiming the economy would collapse if he did. This drama has a long way to go yet.

By contrast it was a much less chaotic situation here in New Zealand, although Jacinda Ardern did have to move to dismiss Clare Curran from her Cabinet position for failing to record a meeting with entrepreneur Derek Handley. It was described as a partial demotion . . . one wonders if Helen Clark would have been so kind.