Diplomacy--protecting our interests: Winston Peters outlines the government's achievements in intensifying New Zealand's international voice and some of the challenges it faces, especially trade risks.

AuthorPeters, Winston

In the last two Budgets, we have invested in rebuilding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, boosting New Zealand's aid budget and its Defence Force and other capability that enables New Zealand to achieve its objectives internationally. This is manifesting itself with at least 70 additional foreign policy staff being deployed, and two new diplomatic posts having been opened in Europe--Stockholm and Dublin. An additional $842 million over five years in Budgets 2018 and 2019 has been allocated to restore the New Zealand aid budget. We have reversed the decline in official development assistance as a proportion of gross national income (GNI) and instead sustained it at 0.28 per cent of GNI.

Alongside restoring capacity for diplomacy and development, this government is investing in defence and other infrastructure that we need to pursue our interests and values internationally. The government has committed $2.3 billion to replace the P3 Orions with P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. These will support maritime surveillance, disaster response and resource protection in the South Pacific and global peace and security operations such as counter-piracy missions. The Defence Capability Plan announced in June will further improve the ability of the Defence Force to respond to the strategic environment New Zealand faces, including through replacement of the aging Hercules fleet.

A continuous presence at Scott Base is crucial to achieve New Zealand's interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. To that end, the government has provided $19.4 million for Antarctica New Zealand to continue the preparatory work for the redevelopment of Scott Base. As we announced on 29 June, the government has selected a design option which enhances the science and operational capabilities of the base, improves the living conditions for staff and future proofs the facility for the next 50 years.

Pacific reset

A signature policy we are currently delivering is the Pacific Reset. At the heart of this initiative is building deeper partnerships with the Pacific. The Pacific Reset recognises our shared identity. We are joined by geography, history, politics, shared interests and demographics. Never before have our prosperity and security been more fundamentally intertwined.

The environmental, economic and human development challenges facing the region are many and complex. At the same time, global interest in the Pacific is increasing; this presents both opportunity and risk.

The government has exercised a new approach to the region. The Pacific Reset reflects New Zealand's greater...

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