Foreign policy has been left out of NZ’s election campaign – these are the big questions voters need to answer

Tax cuts, crime, cost of living, potholes and corporate governance … these and other issues are now familiar to most voters. But it lacks the serious debate it needs in one key election area: foreign policy.

Whichever parties form the next government, and whoever becomes prime minister, will be tasked with negotiating New Zealand’s place in a dynamic and changing world.

Military and security alliances, trade, climate change and foreign aid pose significant challenges. So here are some questions that any incoming administration can answer to the satisfaction of voters.

Safety and security

Recently deepened military ties with Australia And JapanNew Zealand needs to be clear on whether it will join „pillar two” of the AUKUS defense agreement between the US, UK and Australia.

Directly related to the AUKUS question are the hard military implications: for whom or what will New Zealand fight? The US and China clashed with Australia (only New Zealand) over Taiwan A legitimate partner) would New Zealand, drawn into such a conflict, send military aid?

Given the Chinese’s more recent history, New Zealand should be less presumptuous of deploying naval assets in support of exercises aimed at protecting freedom of the seas. Military conflict In the disputed South China Sea?

The Pacific region is also in a state of geopolitical flux. New Zealand has improved its military relationship PGAnd this America has protected „Unimpeded access” to strategic ports and airports in Papua New Guinea. But how is New Zealand responding?Comprehensive partnership” Reportedly involving military exchanges, training and exercises between China and Timor-Leste?

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Read more: Talk of new Cold War heats up – but NZ faces complex challenges in era of 'strategic competition’

Ukraine and the defense budget

The war in Ukraine will also demand attention. Although New Zealand is not directly involved, it provides military training, financial, legal and humanitarian support Help. Will it continue or increase, or will the level of aid depend on what New Zealand’s partners do?

Also, what is New Zealand’s official position on what peace looks like for Ukraine? Will New Zealand support a peace deal?

Read more: AUKUS is already testing autonomous weapons systems – where is NZ’s policy on next generation warfare?

Uncertainty over America’s commitment to supporting Ukraine is related to some Republican opposition. New Zealand’s next government will face highly unpredictable consequences in the US presidential election in November 2024. What will happen if Donald Trump comes back to power?

Many of New Zealand’s major allies (including NATO countries) spend or intend to spend 2% (or more) of GDP on their military. New Zealand currently spends only 1.5% of GDP. Ideally, voters will know how much and when it will increase.

More specifically, will the additional spending see the New Zealand Defense Force adopt militarized artificial intelligence technologies?

What is New Zealand’s position on the peace deal in Ukraine?
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Trade and sanctions

An open, predictable and rules-based global economy can no longer be taken for granted. The move towards unilateral trade policies and agreements has disrupted regional trade integration.

What is New Zealand’s response, will local exporters be encouraged and help diversify their markets?

Beyond the simple mantras of negotiating new trade deals with India or the US, how will that diversification and continued growth be achieved?

Will New Zealand support? Application of China Join a comprehensive and progressive agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – or withdraw it of Taiwan?

Will New Zealand continue to support the use of sanctions outside the United Nations system (such as those imposed on Russia), and it will consider extending economic sanctions to countries for serious human rights violations (such as those imposed on Iran)?

Read more: 'Number 8 wire’ days are over for NZ’s defense force – new priorities demand bigger budgets

Climate and foreign aid

Climate change poses serious challenges both domestically and internationally. New Zealand’s overall performance is rated „very inadequate” by Independence Climate Action Tracker. So what will the next government do globally?

Where does New Zealand stand on such measures? Green Climate FundThe world’s largest multilateral fund dedicated to helping developing countries address the climate crisis, and will increase Commitment Fund For this?

Will New Zealand continue to believe and support? Global Methane PledgeA US-EU joint effort to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 to 2030?

Read more: New Zealand’s strategic priority in Indo-Pacific isn’t AUKUS – it’s helping defeat Russia in Ukraine

The UN has set a target for all developed countries to give 0.7% of their gross national income as aid to developing countries, but only New Zealand is able to give it. 0.23% – well down OECD average. Will the next government seek to increase or decrease this? Would it support the creation of a regional development bank or cooperative aid programs with China?

Finally, we need to confirm whether New Zealand will continue to play 1,500 refugees Annually.

These are not easy questions. But the New Zealand public needs to know the answers before they vote – and before the next government positions the country in an increasingly volatile global order.

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