Foreign Minister dropping the ball in the Pacific

New Zealand should be showing the same urgency in the Pacific as Australia, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee says

“Australia Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s second visit to the Pacific in recent days shows Australia sees it as an important priority to make contact with their counterparts in the face of proposals China has put in front of them.

“While the Pacific Island nations have put on hold a collective multi-national deal, we understand that China has put a new proposal to those countries.

“It’s important that we know what Pacific nations are thinking and reassure them that we are a willing and able partner. The only way we are really going to be able to do that is to get in front of people face to face.

“But our Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta seems to think sitting in Wellington, and letting her Australian counterpart do the heavy lifting, is enough.

“We believe she should have dovetailed a trip to the Pacific with Penny Wong, or done a double-act, to make it clear we remain close partners.

“We are starting to see what could be the beginning of geopolitical shifts in our region that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. Nothing happens overnight, but it’s a significant start to what could be a change in focus for the region.

“New Zealand, which has been a strong partner in the Pacific region in the past should show the high regard that Australia is, of turning up in those countries to listen to how they’re thinking and what they perceive as any advantage they see from signing up to arrangements with China.

“Minister Mahuta needs to step up and join Minister Wong in showing Pacific nations our commitment to them.”