Pacific has to 'stand up' for itself, tighten security - Winston Peters

Winston Peters has warned the Pacific is going to have to "stand up" for itself and tighten security as overseas countries take a renewed interest in the region.

The Foreign Affairs Minister has set aside $714 million in aid over the next four years.

"We've got things that are worth standing up for and we're going to stand up for them," Mr Peters told The AM Show on Wednesday morning.

He deflected questions on whether the funding was an attempt to combat Chinese influence, firmly repeating he would not name the countries taking a "renewed interest in the Pacific and what they have to do".

But he did tell The AM Show we "have to make a dramatic change to our security".

"Where we can engage with countries, that understand our values, share our understanding of the rules of law and the international protocols, then we'll be fine.

"But we cannot just, as some people advocate, walk away and think that we're going to be exempt from any effect adverse to this country. That is a futile action to take."

National leader Simon Bridges told Radio New Zealand the funding was Mr Peters' form of "payback" after choosing to go with Labour to form a coalition Government.

"It's money for Winston Peters to keep him happy.

"I don't think New Zealanders will accept significant new money for foreign affairs and foreign aid when you're not meeting a core promise you made... about cheaper GP visits for hard-working families."

But Mr Peters is confident nothing else will be "shelved" to make way for the huge funding boost.

"It's not a case of one way or the other. It's about the character, nature and future of this country.

"We don't have an option - either we step up or others will to our adverse future, economically and socially."

He also slammed the previous Government who he says "just weren't putting the effort in" when it came to foreign affairs.

"All the signs were bad and we needed to do something about it.

"They lost 100 senior diplomats over the last nine years whilst they were taking a haircut everywhere in so-called efficiencies, going back in the consolidate account. And claims of punching above out weight, it's all bulldust and it was showing in the lack of performance or lack of capacity we had.

"What you had is a narrow, myopic National Party with an appalling idea of how an economy is actually run."


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