Foreign Minister missing in action on the Pacific

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta needs to front up and explain what she’ll be doing to salvage New Zealand’s relationship with the Pacific, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.

“Last week, we heard that China is seeking a sweeping agreement with ten Pacific Island countries, covering everything from national security to climate change and education. Three countries have already signed up or indicated their support; the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Samoa.

“Since this news, the US’ top official for the Indo-Pacific has been on the phone to the Fijian Prime Minister, and the Australian Foreign Minister flew to Fiji within days of her appointment to reiterate Australia’s position as a ready and willing partner.

“While our traditional partners are out engaging with the region and demonstrating their ability to meet all the needs of the Pacific, Minister Mahuta and this Government have gone radio silent. No media, no visible engagement, not even a tweet.

“That our Pacific neighbours are seriously considering, and even participating in, such a far-reaching agreement with China is deeply concerning.

“Minister Mahuta must urgently provide a plan for how this Government will respond and prevent the situation where our neighbours look elsewhere to have their needs met.”