Mactional is an ugly mash sometimes - and the Maori Party's kite-flying on Fiji was another lost opportunity. It was a potentially valuable back channel to the regime in Suva, but it was fumbled. Why did the PM shift his position? Did clumsy MFAT has their fat paws on it, or was it a political botch from McCully? Or was it the Fijian regime that scotched it?
It was the timing the PM could have played with in permitting any delegation that included a Minister of the Crown - enough time to work something out; but now it's all gone. The Maori Party isn't too hot on the diplomatic tango either and has stood on the government's feet because they didn't read the nuances themselves. NZ Herald:
Mr Key had believed he had secured agreement from Dr Sharples on Monday that he would not proceed with the delegation. However, Dr Sharples announced the party was still planning to go ahead with it after meeting his caucus yesterday morning, forcing Mr Key to issue a swift "no".
Mr Key accepted he may have caused confusion, but said his reasons for blocking Dr Sharples' participation were because the Government had to be seen to hold a consistent position on Fiji.
"Effectively [his position as Maori Party co-leader] is inseparable from his position as a minister on this issue."
And that is the fiction that would have allowed him to go in a NZ context, because we would not accept that he can't go in a private capacity - even if it is in discussions with the members of the illegal regime; but it would cast him in a different light in an international context. Perhaps ending the chances was the slimy power behind the scenes of the dictatorship - the purported interim (I suppose since he went about the abrogation of the constitution to a self-declared "new legal order") Attorney-General:
Fiji's interim attorney-general Aiyez Saiyed-Khaiyum said they would be happy to receive the delegation.
He would not comment on Mr Key's actions, but said if Dr Sharples was to come he would be treated as a minister of New Zealand.
It seems Dr Sharples has in fact been vetoed by the Fijians.