You might not have thought so from the campaign, but whichever coalition government is formed once Winston Peters has studied the Special Votes will have a busy external agenda. The Foreign Minister in the new Cabinet will probably get some of the same messages which Gerry Brownlee received in April. ‘New Zealand’s external environment is increasingly turbulent’, read the advice prepared by MFAT, ‘with the risks for small countries particularly acute.’
It’s routine for governments to claim that they is operating in uncertain environments. But this time things are genuinely troubling. And one area for New Zealand to watch is the increasingly tricky intersections between our economic and security interests in the Asia-Pacific. For the last few months, a group of us at Victoria University have been looking at this issue. And as I’ve suggested in a new report, published by the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, smaller powers in the Asia-Pacific are vulnerable as China and the United States use economic pressure to advance their security agendas.