Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Some Thoughts On Foreign Policy Rights And Defence

Some Thoughts On Foreign Policy Rights And Defence Responsibilities

An article by
Hon Peter Dunne MP
Leader, United New Zealand Party

A new government always creates new expectations.

For example, we are apparently on the verge of a cultural renaissance because Helen Clark and Judith Tizard are now running arts policy. However, the reasons why and how are as elusive as ever.

Internationally, there is the expectation that we will boldly market ourselves as a nation the same way we did during the Kirk and Lange eras. The wish is that we establish a truly independent foreign policy, free of foreign entanglements, and more truly reflective than ever before of contemporary aspirations and attitudes. Despite its uncanny similarity to earlier American isolationist sentiments – a similarity that ends there as bluntly as it starts – the sentiment is a legitimate one.

We should be able to make our own way in the world, shaping our foreign and trade as we see fit, to suit our interests, historical and otherwise.

But in adopting such a stance, there is an inevitable associated responsibility we must be prepared to assume. In foreign policy, as in every other area, the claiming of rights and freedoms has to be balanced by the acceptance of responsibility. That means, in this case, the commitment to an adequate system of national defence. Yet the current debate about defence equipment priorities seems determined to eschew even the merest acknowledgement of such responsibility.

The issues of F16s or frigates are of themselves unimportant. They are but symptoms of the bigger issue – our defence responsibilities and how they might be met effectively. At the moment, however, they are virtually the sole focus of attention. The government seems determined to cancel both projects for no other reason than it does not like them. They do not seem to fit with its view of the world.

Yet, apart from warm fuzzies, we do not yet know what this view of the world is. We are all justifiably proud of what our forces have achieved in East Timor and chant the mantra that peacemaking and peacekeeping are functions our forces are good at. But when the Centre for Strategic Studies points out that a critical part of effective peacemaking is the ability to provide air cover for ground forces, which trends to favour the F16 deal, the government turns its back and does not want to know any more. Top-level rumours abound that Derek Quigley has been told from the very top his job is to produce a report which justifies cancelling the F16s. However, he is apparently more inclined to suggest the government resolves first whether its sees the air force being just a transport unit, or having a strike capability. If the government wants us to keep a strike capability, as the Centre for Strategic Studies suggests, then, according to the rumours, Quigley inclines towards the F16s, which is not what the Prime Minister wants to hear.

So, in the absence of any coherent strategy, we will yet again settle only half the story. We may well have our bold and definitive new foreign policy (our rights) but our defence policy (our responsibilities) will be as murky as ever. Our neighbours will be confused and suspicious. Our friends will be embarrassed and inconspicuous. It will be New Zealand against the world once more. Brave and proud sentiments, maybe. But to many, it will be further proof this particular emperor has no clothes.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Another Reason To Loathe HR Departments (And On The Teachers Strike)

This morning’s news item about Police emergency call centre staff turning up for work while they’re sick – because they’re afraid their sick leave statistics will be used against them, and their jobs put in jeopardy – is not an isolated case...

Obviously, sick people shouldn’t be being treated by doctors and nurses who are themselves sick and potentially infectious. Similarly, Police emergency calls also need to be fielded by people who’re feeling alert, and on top of their game. More>>


MPs' Computers To Be Searched: Inquiry Into Leak On Simon Bridges' Expenses

An inquiry has been launched to find out who leaked the National Party's expenses to the media... Parliament's speaker, Trevor Mallard, said a Queen's Counsel would lead the inquiry with the help of an employment lawyer and also someone with forensic IT skills. More>>


Teachers Strike: Nationwide Rallies And Marches

Teachers and principals voted for a full day strike to be held on 15 August to send a strong message to the Government that the current collective agreement offers from the Ministry of Education would not fix the crisis in teaching. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: City Council Ends Its Support For Jackson’s Movie Museum

The Wellington City Council and the Movie Museum Limited have today announced a mutually-agreed parting of the ways for a joint project between the Council’s Convention Centre and TMML’s Movie Museum... Both parties remain optimistic for the future of their respective projects. More>>

Pay Equity: Historic Settlement For Education Support Workers

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and the Ministry of Education today signed Terms of Settlement to address a pay equity claim for 329 support workers who work with very young children in early childhood and primary schools. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Stereotypes About Jacinda Ardern

Routinely, female politicians get depicted as either show ponies or battle axes, with little room for anything else in between. .. More>>

Weekend Interviews: "Discriminatory And Racist" Aussie Deportations

The former president of Australia’s Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs says deportations have risen dramatically in Australia since 2014 when ministers and ministerial delegates were given the power to cancel visas - and half of those being deported are New Zealanders. "These are massive numbers, actually escalating dramatically."... More>>


Legal Challenge: Prisoner Has 9 Boxes Of Documents Seized

Human rights organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa says a prisoner they advocate for has had 9 boxes of legal documents seized from him just days before his case against the Department of Corrections was to be heard. More>>

Single-Use Plastic Bags: Govt To Phase Them Out

Single-use plastic shopping bags will be phased out over the next year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. More>>





Featured InfoPages