Chris Hipkins is blazing his way through New Zealand’s foreign policy.
The New Zealand Prime Minister’s fast-but-furious visit to Papua New Guinea this week – which saw Hipkins spend just 23 hours in Port Moresby, the PNG capital – was his fourth such rapid international trip since he took office.
But after two quick visits to Australia and one to the United Kingdom, this was Hipkins’ first foray into the Pacific.
Moreover, Monday’s trip to PNG put the Prime Minister at the heart of the new ‘Great Game’ for control of the Pacific. And in the geopolitical battle between the US and China, New Zealand is increasingly being asked to pick a side.
Hipkins responded to yet another new superpower security deal – this time between the United States and Papua New Guinea – by saying that New Zealand did not support the ‘militarisation of the Pacific’. Continue reading “GEOFFREY MILLER: How successful was Chris Hipkins’ trip to Papua New Guinea?” →
* Bryce Edwards writes –
The New Zealand Government has been silent about Australia’s decision to commit up to $400bn acquiring nuclear submarines, even though this is a significant threat to peace and stability in the Asia Pacific. The deal was struck by the Albanese Labor Government as part of its Aukus pact with the US and UK to combat China.
The debate over the incredibly expensive and provocative nuclear-powered attack submarine fleet is raging in Australia, where former prime minister Paul Keating has labelled it the country’s worst decision in over a hundred years, especially because of the huge risks it poses to Australia and peace in the region.
Here in New Zealand, reaction and debate has been rather muted, despite the fact that the issue has huge consequences for this country and will inevitably lead to some very tough choices for the Government here.
Former NZ PMs join the debate to condemn Aukus
Debate on what Aukus means for New Zealand is finally getting underway this week, with some interesting contributions yesterday from two former prime ministers.
First, former National prime minister Jim Bolger participated in a forum about New Zealand’s foreign policy in Wellington in which he is reported by the Herald’s Audrey Young to have criticised the Australian submarine buy up as “beyond comprehension” because of the cost and the damage to peace in the Pacific region. Continue reading “BRYCE EDWARDS’ Political Roundup: NZ needs to distance itself from Australia’s anti-China nuclear submarines” →
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has left for Beijing for the first ministerial visit to China since 2019.
Mahuta is to meet China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang where she might have to call on all the diplomatic skills at her command.
Almost certainly she will face questions on what role NZ might seek to play in the AUKUS defence pact involving Australia, the UK and the US.
President Joe Biden’s National Security Council co-ordinator for the Indo Pacific, Kurt Campbell, was reported this week as saying the US is looking for other working group partners now that the ‘critical components’ of the Indo-Pacific alliance have been launched. Continue reading “Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister” →
Australia’s move to strengthen its defence capability with five nuclear-powered attack submarines underlines how relatively defenceless New Zealand is in the Pacific.
Kiwis may gasp that the Labor government in Australia recognises it must outlay $400bn on the nuclear subs, but this ensures that Australia is not exposed to any marauding raid.
Part of the deal under the Aukus umbrella (embracing Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States) is that Australia will regularly host US nuclear-powered submarines beginning within five years, and embedding its military personnel with the US and UK navies, as it begins the process of establishing its own industry.
US President Joe Biden has stressed that the submarines, provided under the trilateral security pact would be “nuclear-powered, not nuclear-armed”. Continue reading “Australia buys nuclear-powered subs – would NZ be concerned if we came under attack and they were defending us?” →
“AUKUS logic is morally repugnant, and NZ must resist it” ran the headline over a leader- page feature in the Dominion-Post recently.
In the article beneath that advice, Thomas Nash, co-director of the independent think-tank, New Zealand Alternative, argued the AUKUS alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States has triggered a dangerous line in commentary questioning this country’s nuclear-free status.
Nash says many of the opinion writers appear to prioritise a militarist worldview but he contends if we are to enjoy a peaceful future, we should do the exact opposite “and forge closer relations that share our anti-nuclear values”.
NZ should resist pressure to fall into line with the military power of the US, the UK and Australia.
Instead of focusing our diplomatic and security efforts on the Five Eyes, he argues, we should strengthen our relationships in Asean countries, Latin America, and in our neighbouring nuclear-free Pacific Islands. Continue reading “AUKUS – it’s all very well expressing our moral repugnance but that won’t halt China’s bullying” →
Defence strategists have begun considering how AUKUS, the Australia-US-UK nuclear submarine project, will ultimately impact on New Zealand. In broad terms, it effectively welds Canberra tightly to the US in strategic and political affairs.
But there are questions whether the deal might run foul of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Wellington and Canberra are linked by closer defence relations. A joint statement issued in 2018 says:
As close neighbours and allies, we have a mutual commitment to support each other’s security, closely coordinate our efforts in the South Pacific, and maintain a shared focus on the security and stability of our broader region. The formal expression of our alliance and security partnership is found in the 1944 Canberra Pact, ANZUS Treaty and through Australia – New Zealand Closer Defence Relations instigated in 1991. Continue reading “Nuclear submarine pact raises defence questions for NZ as Aussies get closer to the US and extend their global reach” →
PM Jacinda Ardern is planning a major visit to Europe next month. Details have yet to be announced but she is expected to visit Paris, Brussels and possibly Berlin.
She is heading NZ’s campaign to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union. First visit is likely to be Paris where she will have a warm welcome from President Emmanuel Macron. This couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.
The French are feeling bruised over the Australia-UK-US nuclear submarine agreement and the cancellation of the $80 billion contract to build French nuclear submarines converted to diesel-electric power in Adelaide. France has already signalled it would not impede a NZ-EU trade pact.
European countries generally are concerned at the new nuclear submarine pact. EU capitals had no prior warning despite President Joe Biden’s expressed desires to repair relations bruised under Donald Trump. It was also angered by Biden’s failure to alert Europe of his withdrawal from Afghanistan despite the presence of European forces in that country. Continue reading “Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe” →
The immediate reaction in the UK to the AUKUS announcement was focused less on the UK’s new commitment and more on the lamentations of French politicians at the loss of a $90 billion Australian submarine deal. It was left to former PM Theresa May to probe unsuccessfully the extent of Britain’s obligation to defend Taiwan.
Chuckles aside, you might think that anything which outrages France and China has something going for it.
Continue reading “New Zealand’s absence from AUKUS is very much part of the debate” →
What do you do when your neighbour goes nuclear?
The Ardern government will be tackling that question after being taken aback by news the Australians are to buy US nuclear attack submarines and will form a new trilateral security partnership to be called AUKUS.
Our Beehive connections tell us PM Jacinda Ardern was briefed by Australian PM Scott Morrison last night.
We are tempted to say these developments confirm how far NZ has slipped off the map in terms of a regional defence power. Our contacts say the Beehive is still grappling with how come NZ wasn’t consulted about the new security partnership – or even invited.
Canberra will acquire several Virginia Class nuclear attack submarines. A $A90 billion plan to buy French nuclear submarines and convert them to diesel-electric power will be abandoned. Continue reading “Ardern govt surprised by news of Aussie decision to buy nuclear subs and form new security partnership” →