Peters dismisses claims

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister has dismissed claims that the country’s aid efforts in the Pacific are encouraging a handout mentality in the islands.

Winston Peters has signalled that the government will invest more time and resources in the economic survival and security of the Pacific.

However his much touted “Pacific re-set” of New Zealand’s foreign policy has faced criticism from some quarters where its benefits for New Zealand have been questioned

Mr Peters said that New Zealand’s own future prosperity and security were closely linked to the Pacific.

“Some New Zealanders think that we are maybe wasting money here. They are wrong. This gives us a persona internationally far bigger than the small country we are,” said Mr Peters.

“Overseas countries look beyond us, look over our shoulders to see who is backing us. And if the people behind us are an assembly of Pacific nations who look kindly towards us, it makes us a much more important international player.”

According to Mr Peters, the new government was going to “put our money where our mouth is” in terms of aid to the Pacific.

He said this was the big difference between his government’s aid policy in the region compared to the previous government.

“I can recall years when the previous government underspent its overseas aid by 92 million dollars,” said the minister.

“Now, that tells me they got up on budget day and said one thing, with no intention of spending the money in the first place. That’s shorthand for deceipt.

“In a Pacific basin where there was desperation everywhere, I don’t think that’s an honest way to go about things.”

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