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NZ in the World - Getting it Right for the Future

New Zealand in the World
Getting it Right for the Future

An Address by

Hon Max Bradford MP National Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Defence

to The Lower North Island Regional Conference of the New Zealand National Party

9:00am Saturday 12 May 2001

Today I want to talk about primarily about defence, where it fits into our foreign policy, and where National should be in charting New Zealand's role in the world.

The events of the last week make it clear there is a major gap opening up between the right and left in New Zealand politics on defence and by implication, foreign, policy.

With the exception of the nuclear ships issue for a while, New Zealand has had a broad bi-partisan approach to defence and foreign policy for 40 years.

So where is New Zealand going?

The seamless web of broadly interlocking foreign, trade and defence policy is being shattered by the Left, particularly now that traditional defence relationships will be put to severe test by this week's decisions.

How long can we expect that other countries will let New Zealand play in its own sandpit on defence, yet continue to extend good will and real concessions to us, for example, on trade benefits?

If we are not seen to be pulling our own weight on defence, why should others listen to us on foreign policy?

Of course New Zealand can make its own decisions on defence, but we must expect there will be "domestic and international consequences" given such radical cuts in our country's defence capability.

New Zealand has always been outward looking.

Two centuries ago, we sent 6,500 men to the Boer War.

My namesake, Trooper George Bradford, was the Kiwi serviceman to be killed in that war, the first war New Zealand had fought overseas.

The ANZAC tradition was born in the depths of the First World War.

The Second World War saw thousands of Kiwis serve in most theatres of war, reflecting our ties to Mother England which were barely 3 generations old at the time.

For much of last century, especially on the back of our economic and trade ties to the UK and Europe following the WW II, our foreign and defence policy reflected our roots to Mother.

Nevertheless, through the 1980s and beyond our linkages and policies began to be shaped by increasing trade with Asia and South Asia.

This was reflected in our involvement in such conflicts as the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the Malayan Emergency.

More effort was put into the Australian defence relationship.

National formed the CDR in 1991 as it became clear our defence and security interests were in the Asia-Pacific rather than further afield.

This didn't stop occasional sorties into Bosnia and the Gulf in the 1990s, but our focus was very much in the part of the world we live in.

That is all about to change, if the Government and the Greens get their way.

Helen Clark has been talking a lot about where we belong. In her view it is primarily, if not wholly, in the Pacific.

This "East of the Chathams" view is a radical change of outlook.

Is this where she and the Left see New Zealand's future lies - in the Pacific?

Because of the way Helen Clark has defined where we belong so narrowly, she sees that we all "live in an incredibly benign strategic environment".

It is not a view many New Zealanders would share, and others certainly don't share it.

The radical shift is set out pretty well in the Government's defence objectives.

To defend New Zealand and to protect its people, land, and territorial waters, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), natural resources and critical infrastructure; To assist in the maintenance of security in the South Pacific and to provide assistance to our Pacific neighbours; To meet New Zealand's alliance commitments to Australia by maintaining a close defence partnership in pursuit of common security interests; To play an appropriate role in the maintenance of security in the Asia-Pacific region, including meeting our obligations as a member of the Five-Power Defence Arrangement (New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Singapore); To contribute to global security and peacekeeping through participation in the full range of UN and other appropriate multilateral peace support and humanitarian relief operations.

Contrast this with the defence objectives of successive governments since the 1970s.

Defend New Zealand against low level threats such as incursions into our EEZ and terrorism;

Contribute to regional security by maintaining our key defence relationships with Australia and FPDA partners;

Be a good international citizen by playing our part in global collective security efforts, particularly peacekeeping.

Three things shape our foreign and defence policies.

New Zealand's SPHERE of interest, if not influence.

What INTERESTS we have to protect and enhance, and thirdly

New Zealand's RESPONSIBILITIES in our sphere of interest.


Our geographical area, the sphere, against which we should test our interests, has to be the Asia-Pacific region.

It is not just the Pacific, as the Left would have us shrink to.

40 percent of our foreign trade goes into the Asia-Pacific region.

Barely 4 percent goes into the Pacific.

The Asian region will become more, not less, important over time.


New Zealand's vital interest therefore has to be in the Asia-Pacific, not just the Pacific.

Our interests here are wide particularly in trade, in economic affairs (and in the health of the region), and in peace and security.

If there is instability or conflict in the region, we cannot trade; investment won't flow; countries won't trade amongst themselves; and people won't travel.


New Zealand's essential responsibilities flow from our sphere of interest, and from the moral responsibility to be a good neighbour and global citizen.

These responsibilities aren't about hand wringing and lecturing.

The Left is particularly adept at hand wringing.

Remember the tone of high dudgeon in the Labour- Alliance lecturing about the tragedy in East Timor? Or Bougainville? Or the Gulf War?

It took a National Government to commit the grunt that led to independence and peace in East Timor.

It took Don McKinnon's foresight and perseverance to bring peace to Bougainville.

Yet it was this Labour-Alliance Government that severed the link to the Gulf action, which constrained Sadaam Hussein's evil intent.

Helen Clark did that on the day one of our fine SAS officers who was killed in Kuwait was buried.

Being a global citizen isn't just about talk-fests at the UN. It might be for Matt Robson and K Locke.

But it isn't for the National Party you and I belong to.

Being a good neighbour means helping in times of adversity, and watching the kids grow up together.

The best of neighbours will band together to beat the home invaders, or enforce law and order in our communities.

Relying on someone else through Neighbourhood Watch is simply bludging.

It is no different for defence policy.

The sphere of New Zealand's interests defines what sort of capability we need to meet any threats, risks and opportunities.

That is diplomatic, as well as defence, capability.

The responsibility we accept, as well as the shared values we support, define the countries and organisations New Zealand must act with.

The Government and the Greens are shifting New Zealand's focus to "East of the Chathams", and away from our real sphere of interest.

Their focus is on 4 percent of our trade, and is essentially fisheries, customs and resource protection so far as defence policy is concerned.

National's interest is on the Asia-Pacific where 40 percent of our growing trade lies. National's defence and foreign policies recognise this reality.

The Government and the Greens would see our responsibilities as humanitarian relief and peacekeeping.

They would leave the hard defence tasks beyond peacekeeping to others.

National believes our responsibilities go much further.

The harder, more expensive, tasks of preserving peace and security lie with us too, because we have our interests to protect.

We cannot, nor should we, leave that to others.

New Zealand is not so small, nor so poor, that we cannot accept a fair share of the burden of maintaining peace and security in the Asia-Pacific.

Not only will we think better of ourselves, but so too will others think well of us.

That is the climate likely to lead to more positive outcomes in our foreign, trade, and economic relationships.

There is plenty of evidence that the Government's announcements this week on defence will poison our relationships abroad, in particular Australia.

John Howard has talked of "domestic and international consequences" without defining them.

Does it mean the phone doesn't get picked up on important issues outside defence?

Does it mean New Zealand will find it more difficult to improve the CER because the Australian voting public sees Kiwis as bludgers, even given our sizable commitment in East Timor?

National's Six Defence Principles

We cannot afford to take any risk of the phone being switched off.

The isolationist stance of the Labour-Alliance Government and the Greens will lead to tears over the next few years.

It won't be easy to see it as the damage is like spreads insidiously and by the time it is discovered it's often too late to repair the damage.

Most New Zealand families wouldn't allow their home, car and contents to be uninsured. On average, each New Zealand household spends around $500-700 a year to insure their property.

Why then do we argue so much about insuring the security of the country, which only costs a little more per household?

National supporters are prepared to play, and pay for, their part in the world.

We will not bludge off others.

Against this background, National has adopted six principles as we plan our policies for the next election.

National's Six Principles Shaping Defence Policy

1. National will ensure the New Zealand Defence Force is capable of reacting to threats to New Zealand's shores and to New Zealand's wider interests and responsibilities.

2. National will ensure the New Zealand Defence Force is able to respond flexibly with a balance of well-trained, combat capable forces to a range of contingencies, and capable of playing a key part in protecting our vital national and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

3. National will ensure the New Zealand Defence Force contributes to confidence-building peace and security efforts in the Asia-Pacific region at a level appropriate to our size and wealth, and given the country's responsibilities as a full member of the United Nations.

4. National will further the ideals and commitments under the Closer Defence Relationship (CDR) with Australia and the Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) with Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the UK.

5. National will ensure the New Zealand Defence Force is capable of acting jointly and in concert with other like-minded countries including (but not limited to) Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

6. National's defence policy will be formed on the principle of inter-dependence, not isolationism. National will not depend on other countries for core defence combat capability.

Today we launch two initiatives to start the debate on defence and foreign policy.

The first is a new website

The second is a nationwide petition on defence.

Other initiatives will soon follow.

We intend to make defence a major issue in the next election.

People have been unsettled, and offended by Helen Clark's defence cuts, and by her determination rooted in the 1970's peace movement, to isolate New Zealand from the neighbours where our vital interests are situated.

New Zealanders do not like being termed bludgers.

The international headlines have carried that message to the citizens of their countries, at a time when everybody knows that we do not live "in an incredibly benign strategic environment", as the Prime Minister would have us believe.

The challenge for National in the next election is to win the defence debate, and restore the international credibility lost because of the Labour-Alliance Government defence cuts.

That means a far better understanding within New Zealand of why defence is an important part of the seamless web of our international relationships and interests.

Like the insurance premium on your house you always pay, but hope you never have to draw on, responsible defence capability costs.

National must set about winning the hearts and minds of ordinary New Zealanders who feel unsettled and insulted by what Helen Clark has done this week.


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