“The presence of a Chinese spy ship off Australia’s coast during their election campaign further demonstrates that security in the Pacific cannot be taken for granted,” says ACT’s Defence spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“Peace, stability and security of the Pacific is of utmost importance to New Zealand. We should be under no illusion that instability in the South Pacific has already caught the attention of the CCP, who cite the need to protect Chinese citizens and property in the Solomons.

“Never before has the Chinese Navy ventured so far south in their intelligence gathering activities in Australia’s exclusive economic zone.

“The world is changing and New Zealand needs to stick with our traditional allies and ensure that our defence capabilities are significantly improved.

“We’ve already been left of AUKUS and the technology cooperation included in that deal.

“ACT has committed two per cent of GDP for Defence expenditure, focusing heavily on capital investment so that we have the capability to defend ourselves and send a message to our allies and to those less friendly that we are here to stand up for liberal democracy.

“The target of two per cent of GDP is what all of our traditional allies, including Australia, are committed to and would demonstrate the seriousness with which we take our defence obligations.

“This is the kind of valuable spending that government should be doing, protecting our country and aligning us with our allies.”