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Political parties share views on aid, trade and foreign affairs at Pre-Election Debate

Posted on 09 August 2023

Representatives from NZ political parties debated New Zealand’s role on the global stage at last week’s Pre-Election Debate “Navigating Global Uncertainty: Aid, Trade and Foreign Affairs”, co-hosted by the Council for International Development Aotearoa New Zealand (CID) and the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA).

The panel consisted of Dan Rosewarne MP (Labour Party), Hon Gerry Brownlee MP (National Party), Golriz Ghahraman MP (Green Party) and Brooke van Velden MP (ACT Party), with no representative from Te Pati Māori present.

Peter Rudd, Executive Director with the Council for International Development, started discussions. “New Zealand is operating in a more volatile, conflict torn world where globalisation is under threat, famine is on the rise, civil society is increasingly fragmented, and climate change is having a more severe negative impact,” he said. “It is vitally important as a country we have public debate around New Zealand’s foreign affairs agenda and place in the world.”

Political commentator Josie Pagani moderated the discussion and questioned MPs on navigating an increasingly complex geopolitical environment, and particularly recent tensions with China.

“I would choose to partner with our traditional allies on defence, but when it comes to trade and improving New Zealand’s livelihood and economic opportunities, it’s not a question of needing to pick a side,” said van Velden.

Brownlee expressed hesitancy in joining AUKUS. “I don’t think anyone can define what pillar two is. Until we know what it is, why would we make any commitment or otherwise,” he said.

“I don’t think we are on the brink of war,” Brownlee said. “We must have an optimistic view about our place in the world.”

Rosewarne, who stood in for Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta, spoke from his extensive defence background and regarding the Defence Budget, said “I think what defence needs is certainty, regardless of what number we land on.”

MPs also offered their opinions on the 2023/24 Aid Budget, and van Velden stated that ACT hasn’t budgeted for any further increase. “What I would like to see if we were to do that would be more scrutiny of where the money is going, and whether we are getting good value for it,” she said.

Brownlee also called for more effective use of the Aid Budget. “Working in a better arrangement with NGO’s and in country organisations is a focus we do need to have,” he says.

New Zealand’s role in the Pacific region was a key area of discussion. “New Zealand is intrinsically Pacific. I don’t think we can get away from being a Pacific nation, and we should embrace that and make sure we leverage off that as much as we can,” said Rosewarne.

Ghahraman reiterated the importance of our responsibility to the region. “If Covid taught us anything, it’s that we can’t overcome any shared crisis unless we all overcome it together. This should apply to our global affairs and the way we approach the rules-based system,” she said.

“The climate crisis means we have to rethink those rules because that is a shared crisis, and all of us have to come through it. It has to be climate justice, and we are in the Pacific and the Pacific will be hit the hardest,” said Ghahraman.


Charlotte Smith
Communications Assistant
+ 64 21 028 68212

This discussion and debate will continue at the Council for International Development’s Annual Conference on 20 –21 September 2023 in Wellington. Find out more information here

Watch the recording of the debate here


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