Why ACT are 2% cowards!

There is a cost to our independent foreign policy

This from the ACT Party…

Free Press frets about the state of freedom and democracy around the world, we hate to go on about it, but the problem is getting worse. Horrible as the Ukraine situation is, it’s the Pacific we should be worried about.

So far the Pacific Reset, turning our foreign policy towards our own backyard, has resulted in a Chinese naval base 2,000 kilometres off the coast of Australia. We are going to need to do more and at this point the Australians are leading the way.

The speed of response to the Ukraine situation shows how loose the ANZAC alliance has become. It’s one thing to have independent foreign policy, but did we lag the Aussies in responding to Ukraine because we have a different view, or because we weren’t ready?

Here’s a clue. In the lead up to ANZAC day, Free Press sold poppies with a veteran who flew the Hercules aircraft that went to Europe two months after the invasion. He collected it from the Manufacturer in the U.S. and flew it back to New Zealand, in 1965. He is in great shape, current Air Force personnel tell us the planes need more maintenance than he does.

Fonterra, a cooperative that processes and markets dairy products, showed greater moral clarity and took faster action than the Government of New Zealand. We can’t afford to be asleep behind the Aussies in the Pacific, but we are.

Australia has got its defence spending up to 2 per cent of its (substantially larger) GDP, while New Zealand lags at 1.5. In practical terms, that means Australia is upgrading its 20 year old ANZAC frigates. They won’t be ANZAC frigates this time, but an Australian class.

New Zealand has had no air combat wing since 2001, despite claiming an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 4 million kilometres by drawing a circle around every outlying island we could find. Australia, meanwhile, is buying dozens of the latest fifth generation F-35 stealth fighters.

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That is not to mention Australia’s AUKUS pact with Britain and America to build nuclear submarines or the Quad arrangement that aligns Australia with India, Japan and America in an Indo-Pacific alliance.

Altogether the concept of an ANZAC force in the South Pacific is becoming impractical but it would be the best deal for New Zealand. Australia’s GDP is exactly six times New Zealand’s. The best hope for dealing with common threats is an interoperable ANZAC force that is funded six parts by Australia and one part New Zealand.

That would mean, if Australia is buying a dozen frigates, New Zealand should put in for another two. If they have six squadrons of F-35s, New Zealand should be putting in for one. That would be a proportional response to defending the region. There may be some capabilities, such as nuclear submarines, that are always beyond New Zealand’s reach, but that is all the more reason to do the things that we can do.

There are two alternatives. The hope is that Australia judges it has to defend New Zealand regardless of our own efforts, and we are able to successfully free ride. The alternative is that they note there’s already now a Chinese naval base 2000 km off their coast, that the priority is to defend Australia.

The right thing to do is to avoid forcing that choice on them. We should recognise that Helen Clark’s ‘benign strategic environment’ has gone, and the dark side of human nature never left us. The Aussies are at least five years ahead of us in realising this sad reality. A good start would be telling them we want in for an interoperable ANZAC defence force, then putting our money where our mouth is.


If we are serious about an Independent Foreign Policy, we have to accept it is going to cost us a lot more.

I believe that the climate crisis means we need a vastly larger military to cope with civil disasters and if we are attempting to distance ourselves from China and America, we need to make a decision to dramatically lift what we spend on the military for purely defensive capacity.

How would we go about defending the realm of NZ and all our economic exclusive zone?

Currently we spend 1.5% of GDP on our entire military, to defend the full realm of NZ and pursue an independent foreign policy, I argue we need to push that up to 3%.

Note – NZ should only build up its military to defend our full territory (NZ islands, EEZ, Ross Dependency, Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue). Any upgrade of our military is for purely defensive purposes, not for military adventure or invasions.

We can’t pull away from America and China and pretend there is no cost to being Independent.

With the climate crisis looming, we need that debate now.

We also have the geopolitics of it.

With China building a forward military base that could cut America off…

China-Solomon Islands deal: China could cut New Zealand, Australia off from US military support – Professor Anne-Marie Brady

A Chinese politics specialist has called the deal between the Solomon Islands and China a “game-changer” saying New Zealand could be cut-off US military support. 

…the real danger here is the Chinese Fishing Militia that will use it as a base to raid deep into fisheries.

We need to protect our fisheries.

ACT’s 2% does nothing.

If you are going to recognise the problem, the solution has to be legitimate.

I maintain we must have an independent foreign policy and that our stance must be friend to all, enemy to none, but we will urgently need to protect what is ours and acknowledge how the climate crisis will demand more civil emergency infrastructure and assets.

We need a complete review of our defence force and massive increase in spending.


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  1. hear hear . Rock on fortress Aotearoa . Maybe we should go shopping for Russian military equipment , those Kalibre seem effective , or , maybe discounted NATO equipment captured in Ukraine , seems to be a lot of it .

  2. Well done Martyn. How else do we stop exploitation of the environment (fisheries, undersea minerals etc)? How else do we help those suffering the disasters that result from what ‘Peace movement Aotearoa’ calls a rapidly worsening climate catastrophe?

    You are surrounded by those that believe slogans and kindness will turn around the ‘Chinese Fishing Militia’ or tanks. Those that believe only the political ‘right’ care about stopping bullies or resource exploitation – even though National ran the NZDF into the ground with ‘the civilianisation project’ and budget cuts. Those that will call you racist for mentioning the actions of China – regardless of your position on other East Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan, S.Korea etc. Those that cannot even cope with talk about how to improve personal safety on the streets – that will trigger ‘victim-blaming’ accusations. The “Passivist” movement, modern ‘bulletproof’ Hauhau (Pai Marire). Slogans didn’t stop bullets for them either.

    Good luck.

    • The “Passivist” movement, modern ‘bulletproof’ Hauhau (Pai Marire). Slogans didn’t stop bullets for them either. People with little intimate knowledge like to assume that they understand our country history with spurious claims for instance that the Hauhau (Pai marire) were somehow passivist? They actually had “Nationalist” tendencies their leadership were becoming aware that the new comers (Pakeha) to this country with their liberal democracy were about to take over their lands with nefarious endeavors.

      Liberal Ideals and International Realities is a project to unearth “the relationship between liberalism, nationalism, and realism, For too long theorists of international relations, and especially proponents of liberal hegemony, have ignored nationalism, “the most powerful ideological tool in the world. What does nationalism look like in Aotearoa today? Something worth thinking about Moon clampers!

      • I used metaphor in my closing line. The intent was to take a concept from one situation (any example of using slogans to combat military violence), and relate that concept to the group discussed in my second paragraph (people that I speculated would oppose Martyn’s suggestion about defense spending, with an attempt to address typical arguments).

        The group that may oppose defence spending in the current day could be called Pacifists, I referred to them as ‘Passivists’ as a play on words. This group is the focus of the metaphor, and the focus of the label “Passivist”.

        The source of the metaphor is a historical example of the use of slogans-beliefs to oppose military action, with tragic outcomes. An alternative example could have been the ‘ghost shirts’ of USA history. It doesn’t matter, as the point of the metaphor is to transfer the general idea that relying on words or beliefs to defend against military action can lead to tragic outcomes. The label “Passivist” was not in reference to the historical source used to create the metaphor.

        I agree that there is a lot of fascinating ideas and history to reflect on – the motives of resistance movements, the place of nationalism in contemporary politics.

      • I’d go for an increase in Military spending up to 20% of GDP if the Military Defence Forces built some houses!

    • The world needs to allow Japan (and Germany) to build up their defensive military forces to counteract the Chinese, Russian and North Korean threats in Asia/Pacific. Similarly Singapore, Sth Korea, Philippines and other western countries (yes Aotearoa) need to up their game.

  3. So, who misses out if we bump it up to 3%…One of the great things about NZ is that we do not have huge military engagements that cost in terms of life’s, and money…let’s keep it that way…also, the NZ military leadership are beholden to the USA military, so, that extra funding would not go to the Pacific, but to the USA military engagements.

    • Won’t be able to hand out that aid papassivists always go on about without first winning the ground war. You’d do yourself a favour reading Sun Tzu before running your mouth. In other words we won’t be winning any ground war without America, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Britian and the Pacific Ilse.

      New Zealand doesn’t have the clout to fly solo on everything but we know how to fight.

      Look at David and Goliath. David knew how to fight. Not just fight but he built the state of Israel. Every single nation builders are literally the best fighters that have graced this planet.

      When JFK said we must step aside from the shadows of war because the fruits of war would be ashes in our mouth. Those are the words of a true fighter with the clout to back his words.

  4. So if the Chinese plonk their fishing vessels at the Ross Dependency. What are we really going to do. Do you think they will listen to the captain of a frigate for a piss pot nation the size of a small city on the mainland.

    Why do you think the Aussies are getting Nuclear Subs. Can’t defend against them. The best we can hope is they still think we are mates in the next decade….

    • if the aussie ever manage to build a sub…and bear in mind a nuclear powered sub is useless unless armed with nukes..you up for that?

      re- the cod war… the UK lost, Iceland got what it wanted.

  5. I’d like to see some evidence that China is going to invade Aotearoa.

    If that evidence is from the the USA, then no thanks. It will be bullshit, as usual from them.

  6. The liberal democracy, that Act Seymour keeps sprouting to push his political agenda like privatization of our national resources to overseas corporations combined with liberal foreign policies by our political elite is IMO part of the problem of why we are facing China incursion into our sphere!

    Liberal Ideals and International Realities is a project to unearth “the relationship between liberalism, nationalism, and realism. For too long theorists of international relations, and especially proponents of liberal hegemony, have ignored nationalism, the most powerful ideological tool in the world. People in Aotearoa fail to realize that “realism and nationalism are more powerful forces that undermine liberalism at every turn.

    The Roots of Liberal Hegemony,” partially answered this question by reconstructing the origins of liberal hegemony from the ground up. It is crucial to distinguish between “liberalism at home and liberalism abroad. Liberalism by itself is not a bad thing. It is only when we try to take liberalism abroad that things become problematic. The “roots” of liberalism stem from two principal questions, IMO. Are people social beings or does it make more sense to emphasize their individuality? And, have our critical faculties developed to the point that we can have universal consensus on the good life?

    Liberal hegemony is characterized “by a foreign policy that emphasizes the spreading of liberal democracy? This tendency manifests itself for three reasons. “One, to protect human rights across the world. Two, to cause international peace. And three, to protect liberalism at home. The “false promise” of liberal hegemony is evident in the propensity of the United States to engage in social engineering on a global scale since the end of the Cold War. “Social engineering is at the heart of modern liberalism, Liberal hegemony leads to a “super ambitious and heavily militarized foreign policy and our liberal foreign policy undermines our national interest.

    liberal hegemony is doomed because social engineering in foreign countries is an impossible exercise. Furthermore, “nationalism is such a powerful force that is causes target states to resist such foreign interventions, Realism is not a recipe for peace. But it is a hell of a lot more peaceful than liberal hegemony. The first future world is multipolar, with the rise of China and the rehabilitation of Russia. The second is unipolar, where China stumbles and Russia declines. The nature of the international system would also determine the fate of liberal hegemony. “Multipolarity would lead to the end of liberal hegemony, and the end of US hegemony IMO.

    • All I know is that a heap of Americans, Australians and New Zealanders died throwing the Japanese off the Solomons only for them to be invaded 70 years later without a shot being fired

  7. OK make it 3%!
    Regardless we certainly need to defend our territorial waters and support friends who cannot fully defend theirs (eg the Cooks).
    What would that look like?

    > A squadron of long range marine patrol aircraft that can launch long range anti shipping missiles.

    >A squadron of medium range fisheries patrol/light attack aircraft. These could twin props rather like the ov-10 Bronco. These could also provide close air support for our troops if we were drawn into an overseas conflict.

    > A naval taskforce capable supporting an invasion of a Pacific island for peace making purposes (i.e. stop a political/tribal genocide) or supporting a relief operation in the event of a natural disaster. This would need to include our 2 frigates with their ASW choppers, our nice new logistics ship, a helicopter assault ship with capacity for 500 troops and a squadron of armed helicopters for troop transport and close air support.

    All this would integrate nicely with our Aussie partners and would be adaptable for both peace making/peace keeping operations as well are normal peacetime business.

  8. We need to spend more on military equipment . Just as we need to be able to offer something in the way of strategic expertise and useful equipment to Australia. They are a target for China. It will be foolhardy in the extreme for China to attempt such madness as a military assault on OZ and or Taiwan. That will not stop the lunatic Xi.
    Building our navy with a major focus on protection of fishing grounds and our Pacific dependencies has to be a priority.
    Couple that with a focus on information gained from long range observations and skilled personnel and we will have plenty to offer any military ally.
    Sorry to say but a US funded navy base in the Far North ( as the harbour of Whangaroa was proposed in WW2) is a viable scenario.We have to be realistic in our vision.

  9. Come on Martin a large military will want one thing – to go to war. The military is not the answer to the climate crisis, if anything, it’s making it worse. The US military is the worlds number one polluter.

    Time for a rethink.

    Time to look towards peon based solutions because our leaders have failed, our economy is screwed, and were all dead if we run with a top down approach to this mess.

    Time for a change.

    • You’re like the umpteenth military expert to say the magic words “America” as if it’s supposed to shield New Zealand from Chinese gunboat deplomacy. You’re just not worth listening to.

  10. Even we spend 10% of our GDP on military, we cannot defend NZ for even half a day if China really attacked us. I stand by Helen Clark’s decision. Instead of wasting money on military equipment we should spend the money on our teachers, nurses and police.

    • best we can do is the ‘swiss model’ of local defence, though that would mean trusting kiwis with weapons and as our culture becomes more ‘americanised’ I’m not sure that’s wise.

      • Last time we flooded NZ with surplus military hardware shooting deaths went up. Best to leave military hardware in the hands of our best warriors.

        I mean if you’re going to go full militia then you’d need a population of atleast 50 million because cheap 88 millimetre mortars ruin your theory.

  11. I’m still trying to work out how DS is going to propose paying for this after he cuts the budget by seven billion dollars…

  12. I have to agree. A squadron of F-35s is a good idea. Then Australia could see that we were pulling our weight. After all we have been exporting our best pilots to the RAF and RAAF since the Skyhawks went.

    • how much tax are you PERSONALLY prepared to pay cantab to achive that….I don’t mean what govt spending should be cut..how much EXTRA are YOU personally prepared to chip in?

      • F-35 doesn’t suit New Zealand’s needs because of its combat radius of 600 kilometres. New Zealand isn’t about to go full battle of Britain with every aircraft imaginable but basically 1 fighter wing of 14 fighter jets has to equal 4000 kilometres.

        That leaves out the F-35 so we’re talking about 14 Advanced F-15s. Literally the only fighter on the market with the specifications and the mana. Plus 6 P-8s so and extra 2 with long range air to ground missiles of its own. Then we won’t need air to air refueling because it would be a mistake for a small economy to try and emulate the air power capabilities of a nuclear and economic superpower. Remembering 14+6 has to equal 4000kms.

        Oh and 4 strategic air transports like the A320neo.

        5x Kawasaki C2 strategic cargo plans to get that aid everyone goes on about to the Ukraine

        And 8 C130Js for general purpose duties around the Pacific or to extend the reach of the strategic lifters and go into places the C2 can’t.

        And again it’s not about copying how America does the airwar.

  13. Maybe! Maybe if we made a great big Harry Potter invisible cloak to throw over the entire country!
    We’d be invisible to everyone in the whole wide world!

    They would know that we’re here!
    Their boats and submarines might bump into us now and then but no big deal.

    Just imagine the size of that invisibility cloak!?


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