Concerning NZ left out of AUKUS discussions

News that the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have formed a partnership without New Zealand is concerning and leaves many questions for the Government to answer, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“It’s disappointing that after many years of New Zealand’s co-operation with our traditional allies, the current Government appears to have been unable to participate in discussions for ‘AUKUS’. It raises serious concerns about the interoperability of New Zealand’s defence force systems with our traditional allies in the future.

“New Zealand is not interested in the nuclear side of the new partnership, but the deeper integration of technology, artificial intelligence and information sharing as well as security and defence-related science, industrial bases and supply chains are areas we would traditionally be involved in.

“New Zealand’s strong nuclear-free stance shouldn’t have been a barrier to us joining such a partnership. We could have been carved out of the nuclear aspect of the partnership,” Ms Collins says.

National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says the concern is now that we could be missing out on important intelligence and cyber-security discussions.

“We need assurance we’re not left out of information streams that counter terrorism.

“Notwithstanding our anti-nuclear position which we haven’t changed, the question the Government needs to answer first and foremost is were we consulted or at the table to discuss with a group of countries that we’ve considered likeminded for quite some time.

“The Government needs to come clean about what happened here. Does this new partnership affect our Five Eyes relationship? What about our relationship with Australia, the one country that we have the closes defence and economic partnership? And will this have an impact on our standing as a responsible international citizen?

“The Government needs to explain why it looks as though New Zealand has been left out of the loop,” Mr Brownlee says.