“It’s hard to believe New Zealand wouldn’t have been welcome at today’s historic virtual ‘Quad’ talks taking place between the leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia, but our absence perhaps says a lot of about the approach to foreign policy the Ardern Government is preferring to take,” says ACT Foreign Affairs spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“New Zealand would potentially stand to benefit from the discussions, which will focus on economic cooperation, increasing India’s COVID vaccine production capacity and climate change.

“The most likely reason we’re not at the table is that China views the informal grouping with suspicion, believing it has come together to balance its growing economic and military influence in the region.

“Occasionally the truth of this Government’s foreign policy direction slips, like when Trade Minister Damien O’Connor suggested Australia ‘should follow us and show respect’ to China.

“ACT believes we should show respect to all countries we deal with, but not in a way that sees New Zealand excluded from potentially productive talks with countries we have longstanding, fruitful relations with.

“We now regularly decide not to join old friends in joint statements about things like human rights in Hong Kong, and this starts to have consequences.

“In recent months we seem to have over-calibrated the always tricky balancing act we play as a small, trading-based nation to a situation where countries with whom we share long friendships and many values no longer offer us a seat at the table.”