“Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta needs to stop shirking her duty and go and support our allies in the Pacific,” says ACT’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Australia’s new Foreign Affairs Minister was on the plane and visiting Pacific leaders within days of being sworn in, but Minister Mahuta has no plans to do the same.

“She’s also refusing to be interviewed on the subject.

“With concerning reports that China will seek a deal with Pacific Islands covering policing, security and data communications cooperation, New Zealand can’t afford to sit back and watch things unfold.

“Unfortunately, the Government has not taken the threat to Pacific security seriously. We are a small nation, but we should be a leading democracy in the region.

“ACT says we should follow the NATO target and methodology. It would see $7.5 billion in extra capital expenditure over the next four years on Defence.

“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.

“This is the kind of valuable spending that government should be doing, protecting our country, aligning us with our allies, and sending a message to China that we will police the Pacific.

“Nanaia Mahuta needs to stand up and do the same.”