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Richard Prebble: The world has got more dangerous. It is time to rejoin ANZUS

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New Zealand is a partner of an Atlantic Defence treaty but apart from a pact with Australia this country has no defence treaty. New Zealand is a NATO partner, a nuclear alliance, but our membership of ANZUS is suspended.


Jacinda Ardern has explained New Zealand is sending troops to Europe because “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of international law”. Russia’s “blatant attack on a country’s sovereignty is a threat to all of us”.


The PM is correct. Russia’s invasion is a threat to the international rules-based system that is fundamental to New Zealand’s national security.


All the political parties say the Pacific should be New Zealand’s focus but the actions do not match the words.


In violation of international law China has occupied and militarized islands in the South China Sea.


China has negotiated permission to set up a military base in the Solomon Islands.


The Defence Assessment 2021 states that the establishment of a military base in the Pacific by China would be a significant threat to our security.


Jacinda Ardern’s response to these developments is to express concern.

Labour’s “focus on the Pacific” appears to be the appointment of Louisa Wall as Pacific Ambassador for Gender Equality/Tuia Tāngata. It is an appointment that the very conservative Pacific governments will not welcome.


Just as John Key appointed Shane Jones a Pacific ambassador, Labour is using a Pacific ambassadorship to get an MP out of parliament.


Successive governments have made trade the foreign policy priority and ignored security. New Zealand relies on distance for our defence. Moscow is closer to Paris than Sydney is to Auckland. Our military has warned that cyberwarfare has made distance irrelevant.


Sweden and Finland are neutral countries. Both recognize Russia’s aggression and its Security Council veto mean they cannot remain neutral relying on the United Nations for their security. Both nations have signaled they intend to join NATO.


The New Zealand government is yet to acknowledge that events in Europe and the Pacific have fundamentally changed our security situation.


The Labour government should never have allowed China to get a foothold in the Solomon Islands. It is a country I know well.


For a bargain $16.6m a year the Chinese have obtained permission for a military base. $16.6 million is a tiny fraction of our $5.2 billion defence budget. New Zealand cannot afford the cost of an effective counter to a Chinese base in the Pacific.


The Solomon Islands have a system of Constituency Allowances: A fund that each of the 50 MPs has to spend on development in their electorate. When the Solomon Islands switched recognition from Taiwan the Chinese Government agreed to pay the cost of these allowances, $90 million Solomon, that is just $16.6 million Kiwi.


Western aid donors have been critical of the constituency allowances. One MP I know used his allowance to provide free ferry trips for his constituents to his island electorate. It is no different from our government funding Gold Card holders free ferry trips to Waiheke Island.


The Solomons is a third world country. Little government spending is transparent or effective. On that particular MP’s island there is no infrastructure. When I visited, the teachers had not been paid for six months. The only taxpayer expenditure was the MP’s constituency allowance.


If our government had agreed to fund the allowances there would be no agreement for a Chinese base.


The Chinese are being successful in the Pacific because they are funding what the locals value. New Zealand is losing influence because we fund what we think they should value.


There is scant evidence that New Zealand’s aid programs are any more effective than the spending priorities of the democratically elected Pacific governments. No wonder many Pacific Island MPs believe New Zealand is more of a threat to their values than China.


The Solomon Islands could be the first of a number of Chinese Pacific Island military bases threatening New Zealand’s trade routes.


Russia’s invasion and China’s actions have fundamentally changed global security. The Ukraine is an object lesson on how dangerous it is to have no defence agreement with America.


As the person who introduced the first Nuclear Free Bill I have the credibility to say New Zealand needs to urgently seek to have our suspended membership of ANZUS lifted. Legally no law change is required. If our allies request an amendment before readmitting New Zealand then so be it.


As an aside, combating climate change may require a rethink of our nuclear free status. We would be foolish to ignore that new, even safer, smaller, nuclear power plants are under active development but that is for another post.


Today our security requires a defence treaty with the only country capable of countering China.



Richard Prebble CBE is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996 to 2004.

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55 Comments


gordonpotts4
gordonpotts4
Apr 21, 2022

We need to look at the bigger picture, why is Russia and China moving beyond their

boundaries.Both R. and C. remember the two world wars and they see Nato's push to

control the West,they see the weakness that is being caused,in the mean time China is moving southwards,and Russia into the middle east.

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lynnsam112
lynnsam112
Apr 20, 2022

when China comes to our shores to do a takeover I'm sure Mahuta will send out a couple of canoes and a few Maori warriors to great and meet and tell them we are run by the Maoris now......that should scare them off....😂😂

This country is a joke! we have Ardern blabbering about Aotearowa on the world stage.....

we are a laughing stock in soooooo many ways.....

We are ripe for the picking, vulnerable, weak and run by imbeciles.....

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I agree with this article. As Prebble has said, changing times mean changing policies. He is prepared to have nuclear powered ships in New Zealand if need be to get back into ANZUS. The 1980s world is dead and gone and the world is a very different place. The point is that countries and alliances with countries that have nuclear weaopns are the countries who do not get attacked.

As for the Pacific I heard Mahuta on radio saying that the Solomons should have consulted us before signing the agreement with China. Firstly the Solomons are an independent country with their own ideas, secondly the statement was arogant and condescending. If we had wanted to influence the Solomons then we…

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Phil Bennett
Phil Bennett
Apr 20, 2022

Jacinda want to destroy the country and she is doing a nice job thank you.From bankrupting us, destroying middle NZ to destroying our only oil refinery , spending that didnt include more funding for hospitals... My only fear is , if there is a "next" election that the Maori Party hold the balance of power, my god, they would have to put more flights on to get out of what was a brilliant country that has been turned into a totalitarian apartheid nightmare.

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lynnsam112
lynnsam112
Apr 20, 2022
Replying to

well said Phil......unfortunately a lot of people are blind to the truth

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Absolute bullshit Richard, first of all the conflict happening in the Ukraine belongs to the dare I say it the empire of lies, good old uncle sam the USA, they started this whole shit thing directly starting with the 2014 the American sponsorded overthrow of ( the democratically - elected ) President Yanukovych, that scum bag billion George Soros openly admited he was the main sponsor to the overthrow with the CIA, that overthrow came about because good old uncle sam did not like Yanukovyh, he was to friendly with the bear Russia, that overthrow has cost the lives of over 14,000 people over that 8 year period, around 4,000 of them have been children, along with men and wome…

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lfocahain
lfocahain
Apr 24, 2022
Replying to

Oh why on earth did you stop there, your next bit is surely support for Germany annexing the Sudetenland in '38? Complete, unmitigated tosh. Some opinions are alternative for a reason - in this case a total lack of accuracy or rationalism.

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