The following article, written by independent journalist Mick Hall, details the growing danger that New Zealand may join the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) agreement, an aggressive military alliance directed against China. The planned deployment of nuclear-powered submarines by Australia is at the heart of the AUKUS project. New Zealand has hitherto followed a strict non-nuclear policy since the adoption of the Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act in 1987. According to Marco de Jong, historian and co-director of Te Kuaka NZA, an organisation advocating an independent and progressive foreign policy, if New Zealand did join the US-led bloc it would effectively compromise this long-held anti-nuclear policy.
The move comes after a new coalition government, led by the right wing National Party, and including ACT, a far right libertarian party, took office on November 27, 2023, following the defeat of the previously governing New Zealand Labour Party in the country’s October 14 general election.
Early statements by ministers in the country’s new government indicate that its foreign policy will be much more in synch with the ‘Five Eyes’ Anglosphere and US strategic interests than the previous Labour government, which took a relatively independent stand. However, pre-election, Labour Prime Minister Chris Hipkins had indicated that, he too was open to at least some type of relationship with AUKUS. Hipkins became Prime Minister on January 25, 2023, following the resignation of the relatively more progressive and popular Jacinda Ardern, a factor that many believe contributed to Labour’s subsequent defeat at the polls.
According to Marco de Jong, a New Zealand move towards AUKUS is not wanted either by other nations in the Pacific nor by the country’s indigenous Maori population:
“Deeper integration with the military industrial base of the Anglosphere is something that we should be incredibly concerned about for New Zealand and its standing in the region and in the world.”
New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy has also been a factor in the country’s good relations with China, which is its largest trading partner.
Te Pati Maori, also known as The Maori Party, a left wing party representing the country’s indigenous people, and which won six seats in the October general election, wants New Zealand to be non-aligned. Its co-leader Rawiri Waititi said his party feared for the nation’s sovereignty if an alignment with AUKUS was pursued.
“We’re deeply concerned with the implications this has on Aotearoa’s independence and ability to remain militarily neutral,” he said, adding:
“As Maori we cannot allow our sovereignty to be determined by others, whether they are in Canberra or Washington. Aotearoa should not act as a Pacific spy base in the wars of imperial powers. Joining AUKUS will severely undermine our country’s sovereignty, constitution, and ability to remain nuclear free. There is too much at stake for our government to make a commitment of this magnitude without a democratic process.” (Aotearoa is increasingly used as the name for the country in place of New Zealand.)
The following article was originally published by Consortium News.
Concerns are rising for peace and sovereignty in the Pacific after strong signals from New Zealand’s new government that it wants to swiftly join the U.S.-led military alliance AUKUS.
If New Zealand does join the U.S.-led military bloc it would effectively compromise the country’s long-held anti-nuclear policy, Marco De Jong, historian and co-director of the New Zealand foreign policy group Te Kuaka, told Consortium News.
He said the decision would put an end to what is left of the nation’s independent foreign policy, as well as its image as an “honest broker” in a region already divided by increasing militarization.
The 2021 AUKUS agreement among Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. centers on the tripartite development of a nuclear submarine fleet within a security partnership geared to upholding the “rules-based international order,” as well as a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Though not stated explicitly, it is seen as an anti-China alliance, based on a hyped-up threat of Beijing to the region.
It is controversial in Australia because the decision to join AUKUS with an AU$368 billion price tag for the submarines was continued by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (following its initiation by the previous prime minister Scott Morrison) without any consultation with Parliament, let alone the public.
There is dissension in Albanese’s Labor Party, and former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating, four days after the event in San Diego, publicly ripped the deal.
Keating said Australia was
“now part of a containment policy against China. The Chinese government doesn’t want to attack anybody. They don’t want to attack us … We supply their iron ore which keeps their industrial base going, and there’s nowhere else but us to get it. Why would they attack? They don’t want to attack the Americans … It’s about one matter only: the maintenance of U.S. strategic hegemony in East Asia. This is what this [AUKUS] is all about.”
By subordinating itself, Keating said Australia is forfeiting its sovereignty to rely on Britain, which abandoned its former colony years ago, to build nuclear submarines that serve U.S. — and not Australian — interests.
Nevertheless the deal is still on track. It was announced in March that SNN-AUKUS nuclear submarines would be delivered to Australia by the early 2040s and the U.K. by the late 2030s.
A bill passed in the U.S. Congress on Thursday cleared the way to sell three-to-five Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the interim by the early 2030s.Continue reading New Zealand leaning towards AUKUS