Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Trump criticism of defence spending does not apply to Anzus says Bishop

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop does not believe that US presidential candidate Donald Trump has Australia and Anzus in mind when he criticises partners for not contributing enough to security alliances.

"I don't believe that those comments are directed towards Australia because Australia is already on a path to ensuring that our defence budget is 2 per cent of GDP," she told the Herald during a visit to New Zealand.

"In US terms, that is a significant contribution by a country like Australia to our own defence needs."

She said Canberra and Washington had a very strong relationship which would endure.

Australia would work with whomever the United States people in their wisdom elected as president.

Bishop was in New Zealand on Friday and Saturday for wide-ranging talks which included discussion about the planned visit of a US destroyer to New Zealand next month, the first US naval vist since New Zealand was suspended from the Anzus alliance in 1986 for its anti-nuclear policy.

Asked if she could see a time when New Zealand rejoined Anzus, she said: "That's a matter for New Zealand but I note that the US - New Zealand relationship is positive at present."

The issue had never been raised with her, she said.

The New Zealand Government has said it has no plans to rejoins the alliance.

Australia sees the United States as the indispensable guarantor of peace and stability and security in our region including in the Asia Pacific.
Julie Bishop

Defence spending by Europe and Asia allies has been a recurring theme with Trump, particularly of Nato allies of which only four contribute the expected minimum 2 per cent on defence.

The US spends 3 per cent of gdp annually, or $US650 billion.

Bishop staunchly defended the role the United States had played in the Asia Pacific region when asked about the "separation" from the US - militarily and economically - announced by Philippines President Rodrigo Duertes in China last week and what it meant for the South China Seas.

"Australia sees the United States as the indispensable guarantor of peace and stability and security in our region including in the Asia Pacific," she said.

Julie Bishop with Wallabies captain Stephen Moore walking in Albert Park, Auckland, yesterday before the test. Photo/ Australia High Commission
Julie Bishop with Wallabies captain Stephen Moore walking in Albert Park, Auckland, yesterday before the test. Photo/ Australia High Commission


"Many countries have benefited from US engagement and leadership in the Asia-Pacific."
The leaders she spoke to wanted to see more United States engagement, not less.

"We have benefitted enormously from at least 70 years of US leadership and the United States support for the international rules-based order has been of great benefit to Australia and, I would suggest, New Zealand."

Asked if Australia would join any possible conflict, she said Australia wanted a de-escalation of tensions and for claimant parties to peacefully negotiate.

Duerte, who has been president since June, has since backed away from his comments in China but the erratic leader has thrown the Philippines defence alliance with the US into doubt.

He also said last week that the Philippines would stop patrolling in the South China Seas - despite winning a case earlier this year against China over maritime rights.

- NZ Herald

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