Is Matthew Hooton’s Pro-PRC Positioning Rubbing Off On Muller?


So here’s a curious thing. A few days ago, Matthew Hooton wrote what can only be described as an obsequiously pro-PRC column for the Herald [this was the ‘Chinese Taipei’ one comparing Taiwanese independence to the Chatham Islands attempting to secede from New Zealand and proclaiming itself the real government of the entire country].

Now, just prior  to Todd Muller’s victory over Simon Bridges, Hooton put out a piece which appeared *Suspiciously* similar to Muller’s remarks in his first speech as National’s new Leader.

As it turned out, this was no accident, nor plagiarism – but rather a case of shared authorship. Hooton had been Muller’s sotto-voce comms guy for much of his Leadership campaign. Not that I seem to recall this being openly disclosed by Hooton before he started going in to bat for Muller and/or against Bridges, but not my point. Which is, instead, to note that Hooton has a reasonable degree of influence over what the new National Party leader says in public.

Which may, perhaps, explain why Todd Muller started loudly pushing for New Zealand to re-open the border with the People’s Republic of China, “concurrently” with our working to re-open the border with our closest neighbour, trading partner, and traditional ally of Australia.

Personally, if we were going to be doing this with anyone else other than Australia, I would have thought that it made more sense to be looking at resuming relatively normal-ish interactions with countries that’ve actually demonstrably got the virus completely under control … like Taiwan … but for obvious reasons, I doubt that Hooton would be keen upon pushing for that.

Anyway, to sum up – we can reasonably infer from Hooton’s column that he’s pretty pro-PRC. And seems to think that openly standing up for New Zealand’s interests when the PRC pushes us to, say, *not* have a lockdown etc. … is negative conduct to be castigated and eschewed.

He’s got a point that there’s a potential economic cost associated with such actions, and that Winston’s exchanges with the Chinese Embassy here are, as I put it at the time, a case of playing bull-rush in a China-shop. [Which I don’t necessarily disagree with doing either, but that is another story for another time]

But going out of his way to insistently denigrate Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei” and roll the PRC’s preferred line upon that and other subjects – is going rather further than sensible, pragmatic ‘realpolitik’ considerations. It’s repeating outright propaganda, to the interest of a state other than this one.

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And then a few days later, Hooton’s highest-profile local client, the new leader of the National Party, starts pushing a similar line around re-engaging with China by opening the border etc. as a top priority. [And certainly, this would help restore the situation the Chinese embassy was pushing for at the start of the crisis – wherein they vocally opposed our closing of the border to the PRC and other countries in the first place]

We have known for some time now that the PRC has made a considered and cogent effort to get its point of view into our politics, courtesy of Prof Brady’s “Magic Weapons” paper and other such occurrences.

In light of this, I think it is a legitimate question to ask what degree of influence Hooton and his associates had over Muller’s remarks and subsequent (geo)political positioning over the weekend.


  1. No surprises here Martyn.

    So Hooten is a fair weather ‘SUBSERVIENT’ friend for national, – no shit Sherlock.

    With the matter of Mathew Hooten;-just following the money trail,-he is a ‘hoover’ when it comes to money isn’t he just.

    I am sick of these grubby little hollow politics players around the public purse, among most players lovingly buzzing around the honey pot at the beehive on either side of the aisle today..

    “Its just about the money stupid”.

  2. Funny enough, Fonterra seems to be doing better now the border is closed… such a coincidence how those partnerships with China tend to wipe out NZ business into bankruptcy and leave China to buy up the NZ business scraps cheaply.

    Since it’s widely believe Covid started in Wuhan and China has not got Covid under control, and you couldn’t believe China anyway after telling WHO all was rosy before unleashing a pandemic on the world. (While conveniently having secured all the world’s PPE and could then sell it back at a nice profit (even if doesn’t work or not what they ordered and make the world’s leaders beg for it.)

    According to this article Boris is thinking the UK better have some level of self sufficiency and concerns about the grab for power against the law in Hong Kong… Clearly Natz didn’t learn any lessons from Covid.

    “In its latest power grab, China on Friday set in motion a controversial national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing its lawmakers, in a move seen as an attempt to stifle the city’s special freedoms. The UK, Australia and Canada released a joint statement condemning the move, saying it undermined the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy.

    It came amid escalating fears the socialist superpower is seeking to assert its influence by buying up companies at risk of going bankrupt due to the crisis.”

  3. It is naive to think that China should not want Hong Kong nor Taiwan (Formosa) back when one considers how they lost them in relatively recent history. We would be doing exactly the same thing.
    As for the propagandised Western hatred of China to mask its own bungling incompetence re covid 19….take it with a grain of salt and bear in mind that USA wants war with China.

    • No-one wants a war – it would serve no purpose – what would the winners get – nuclear fallout and that is about it – what the world wants is some honesty – no-one believes the figures coming out of China with regard Covid 19 – the people in Taiwan and Hong Kong do not want to have authoritarian dictatorship running their lives – they want to choose – it is called democracy – in November the Americans could vote to oust Donald Trump – can the Chinese do the same with their president?

  4. I guess the Natz love the idea of more people in NZ that underpay their staff. Pity it has taken more than a decade for our immigration to discover the scams that welcome exploitative employers around the world into NZ to operate here and lower NZ wages.

    Chinese ‘entrepreneur’ who claimed she would create jobs in NZ underpaid staff

    This lady still operating in NZ by the sounds of it.
    Migrant worker speaks out against exploitation at rural Reporoa holiday park

    And of course no questions asked about rubbish bags full of cash and illegal cigarettes to destroy the health of others in NZ. Funny how hardship can be used when there’s millions in cash lying around. Must be why NZ has 25% more lawyers than the UK per capita.

    Cigarette smuggling case: Defendants keep names secret to protect children, employees

    From Hong Kong, but seriously 26 years of no tax returns in NZ and they still get NZ residency to plague the country with Meth.
    Lawyers’ fees restrained by police after Auckland drug bust

    Although the CCP is supposedly communist (seriously not anymore) there seems to be common threads with the Natz when it comes to employment and profiting from social ills.

    Working 9 to 9: Chinese tech workers push back against long hours
    Staff at Alibaba, Huawei and other big firms are sharing evidence of unpaid compulsory overtime

    • Good discovery there SaveNZ.

      *China has a very dark side obviously.

      *We now see how China seeded the Indochina war from North Korea to the Vietnam was.

      *Yes China is a expansionist regime alright.

    • Agree almost totally.
      What does that say about the state of INZ though (and associated agencies – such as the IAA and others)
      And unfortunately it doesn’t reflect well on the Minister who is probably just a little but too ‘nice’ to stand up to a lot of the BS and spin from his officials.
      Not unlike WINZ/MSD, or NZTA, or a few others – Krekshuns for example, MoBIE and all that sails in Her/Him needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
      And as Ministers (and indeed the PM) need (as a matter of convention and process) to support their ‘officials’, they also need to question them and be alert to the possibility of ‘capture’. Because sure as shit there are a few examples of that.
      Best I don’t get into yet another little rave but there are a number of people onto it (like Dr Geoff Bertram and others) who recognise things as they stand in the PS are not fit for purpose (especially if you want to be kind and transformational)
      And strangely enough (well not so strange really), is that there is a big difference between the way things run in normal circumstances from the way they do under a state of National Emergency. And even then there were a few failings (such as at the border in the early stages of lockdown).
      But yep ….. rest assured, Reparoa’s et al, bizz as usual. It’s a Divine Right apparently
      I don’t really have much sympathy for PS master-of-the-universe CEO’s in various dysfunctional departments – they brought most of it on themselves and its what they claim they get paid the big bucks for in a global marketplace of CEOs and their “competencies”. (nice blokes and blokesses as they may be)
      Roll on Chippie’s reforms tho’ no doubt it’ll be pragmatically incremental and there’s a good chance it’ll all turn to shit before anything of value causes a little bit of hopey hopey changey changey stuff.

  5. And remember that the National party has an MP born in China who failed to disclose his links with Chinese military intelligence. Further he sat on the Foreign Affairs and Defence select committee! How did NZ security screening miss his links with Chinese intelligence? Why is he still permitted to be an MP as he withheld key information?
    I think it is disgraceful that money trumps national security.
    Follow the Chinese money and the influence

  6. I think that these utterances about China have little to do with China itself, and more to do with National positioning itself for the election. The suggestion is that under a National government, the old “normal” will be restored – primary exports, house values, and the tourist industry will all be returned to their former selves, with the implication that the Labour-led coalition might just use the crisis to make unwelcome changes. The virus has been international in its effects, and I don’t think they are able to achieve this, but that doesn’t stop them from betting on hope and fear overriding such considerations in the voting booth.

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