Former Foreign Minister to Sue NZ Minister for Defamation

Bob Carr says he will sue Winston Peters over remarks he made on radio in a dispute over AUKUS.

Former NSW Premier and Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, says he intends to sue New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters over remarks he made on the radio this morning.

Mr. Peters was being questioned about his country’s potential inclusion in the second pillar of the AUKUS pact.

When an interviewer asked him to comment on Mr. Carr’s outspoken opposition to the agreement, Mr. Peters referred to him as “nothing more than a Chinese puppet.”

Last month, Mr. Carr visited Wellington and addressed a Labour Party-organised anti-AUKUS forum alongside former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark.

“What on earth does he think he’s doing walking into our country and telling us what to do?” Mr. Peters told RNZ. “We would no more do that in Australia than he should do here. That’s the kind of arrogance we don’t like.”

He went on to suggest an even closer relationship between Mr. Carr and Beijing in comments RNZ later removed from the version archived on its website.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters speaks in Orewa in Auckland on Sept. 25, 2020. (Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters speaks in Orewa in Auckland on Sept. 25, 2020. (Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Mr. Carr says those comments were “entirely defamatory” and indicated he would be taking legal action.

Mr. Peters’ office said in a statement that he would respond to queries about the issue “if the Minister receives formal notification of any such action.”

He then repeated his criticism during question time in Parliament this afternoon, “particularly those comments that highlighted the fact that critics don’t know what they don’t know about the situation New Zealand faces,” Mr. Peters said.Senior Labour Party figures have castigated the foreign minister over the statements.

Ms. Clark said Mr. Peters had “seriously defamed” Mr. Carr, and current party leader Chris Hipkins called on Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to stand him down.

“The allegations that he made against Bob Carr, a senior and well-respected politician, are totally unacceptable,” Mr. Hipkins told the media.

“The fact you have Bob Carr taking defamation action is embarrassing for New Zealand, it shows Winston Peters has abused his office. [The Prime Minister] should stand Winston Peters down immediately.”

But Mr. Luxon—while claiming the comments were “not ones I would make”—said Mr. Carr was an experienced politician and should understand the “rough and tumble of politics.”

He said his foreign minister was doing an “exceptionally good job” and the comments posed no diplomatic risk.

Mr. Peters’ stance plays well with his base, but appears not to be resonating with voters in the general public.

The 1News-Varian poll on Monday night put his New Zealand First party on just 4 percent, one short of the threshold needed to get back into Parliament.

Labour polled 30 percent, making it capable of forming a government with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori, while National dropped two points to 36 percent and its other coalition partner, ACT was down to seven percent.


Read More

Leave a Reply