The Huddle: Should New Zealand support Chris Liddell for OECD role?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 27 Oct 2020, 6:55PM
Chris Liddell has been backed by the Trump administration as the next Secretary General of the OECD. (Photo / File)
Chris Liddell has been backed by the Trump administration as the next Secretary General of the OECD. (Photo / File)

The Huddle: Should New Zealand support Chris Liddell for OECD role?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 27 Oct 2020, 6:55PM

Listen above as David Farrar and Shane Te Pou discuss the day's news with Heather du Plessis-Allan on The Huddle

President Donald Trump's nomination of his Kiwi staffer for the OECD top job has divided New Zealand's political parties.

Chris Liddell, who was born in Matamata and went to Mt Albert Grammar, has been put forward by Trump to the position of Secretary General of the OECD.

Liddell currently serves as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy co-ordination at the White House and to help lead America's Covid-19 response.

The Greens' foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said it was "literally dangerous" to back a man who helped lead the States' Covid-19 response.

"Trumpish anti-science, anti-co-operation, politics have no place in international governance," she tweeted.

Ghahraman said New Zealand "overwhelmingly" voted in support of the Government's Covid response which was rejected in the United States and Liddell was "not our values".

Liddell is also reported to have been involved in the Trump administration's decision to separate migrant children from their parents.

But National's foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Bridges said New Zealand should support Liddell for the position because "he's one of us".

"It's in our interest to do so.

"He's ultimately - and always will be - a boy from Matamata. Having him [at the OECD] means a foot in the door for New Zealand. We'll have an access we just won't get if it's someone from another country."

Bridges said a lot of people would "confuse" Liddell's role in Trump's administration and be dubious of New Zealand supporting him - but said everything he'd seen showed Liddell had his own views.

The Trump administration has taken a hostile approach to multilateral trade.

Bridges said he "would be very surprised" if Liddell, given his Kiwi and professional background, didn't support free trade and wasn't in favour of market-based principles.

Nominations for the position are still open and a spokesman for the Prime Minister said the Government would make a decision on who to support when nominations closed.

Australia has nominated its Minister for Finance, Senator Mathias Cormann, and will likely ask New Zealand to support him rather than Trump's nomination.

But Bridges said the situation "is just like sports".

"They would be under no illusions that we'd back our own over them, just like they would every single time were the boot on the other foot.

"Ordinarily if there wasn't a heavy-weight businessman who happens to be a Kiwi, you might expect us to support our cousins. But we've got a better option here."

The Act Party's foreign affairs spokesperson Brooke Van Velden said the fact Liddell was "getting more support from Donald Trump than the Green Party is extraordinary".

"New Zealanders should be united in supporting him. It's further evidence the Greens should be nowhere near power," said Van Velden.

Before being part of the Trump administration, Liddell was chief financial officer of Microsoft, the vice chairman of General Motors and chief executive of New Zealand-based Carter Holt Harvey.

text by Amelia Wade, NZ Herald