Winston Peters explains $900m foreign affairs' spend, saying New Zealand needs 'respect, and we intend to get it back'

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With evident anger at the funding cuts his Ministry of Foreign Affairs had endured over the years, Winston Peters was more than willing to reel off the benefits the near $1 billion funding boost his portfolio has scored in Budget 2018.

Mr Peters has tried to explain the benefits of nearly $700m budget spending in aid, and 50 new diplomats funded in Budget 2018.
Source: 1 NEWS

Speaking with 1 NEWS Political Editor Jessica Mutch today, Mr Peters was keen to point out that his ministry does include "Trade" - and it's the life blood of the New Zealand economy.

So what did he have to say about the public's eyebrow raising over the huge budget spend off Kiwi shores?

"It's not on top of their list (foreign affairs spending) until they get in trouble internationally, it's not on the top of their list until they want trade assistance internationally," Mr Peters said.

The government has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the region.
Source: 1 NEWS

"This is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and as I say our trade was declining. We live and die by our trading success story.

"We live and die by the capacity of our businesses to go off shore and bring money back for the family New Zealand. So perhaps a better education on why this is important is required."

Today, the government announced it was spending $714 million in aid to Pacific region, and $190 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade -  over the next four years.

The Foreign Minister says the government’s announcement is a response to a number of influences in the Pacific.
Source: Breakfast

Mr Peters said New Zealand has the lowest multilateral contribution to aid in the OECD, 0.28 per cent of global national income, and indicated he saw this as a false economy for New Zealand in the future.

"But in the long run the extrapolation of the thought of some of the political comments at the moment is 'why aren't we funding projects back home? Charity starts at home' and the extension of that is 'why don't we just abolish the ministry and abolish our off shore presence completely?'. I know where that will lead," Mr Peters said.

"A country like New Zealand needs friends, but you've got to get friends by your positive action and your preparedness to contribute.

"In short, we need respect, and we intend to get it back."

"So it comes down to where would you place the peg of financing, or the benchmark of financing?" 

Mr Peters also touched on the planned 50 additional New Zealand diplomats overseas - noticeably in Scandinavia and Stockholm, Sweden - who have no reciprocal embassy in New Zealand.

"When you look at a country like Norway which is the leading technological country on a thing like fishing... We have things to learn from them," Mr Peters said.

"We have things to learn from the Icelanders. We have a whole lot of things to learn in the area of remediating the deteriorating environment whilst we are farming cows.

"There are lots of cows in Scandinavia, but they are light years ahead of us. You fly over their rivers and they're pristine clean."

"No pollution... we could have learnt from them a long long time ago."

Budget 2018 will be fully released on May 17.

Simon Bridges says the Government should be investing more cash in New Zealand.
Source: 1 NEWS


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