Prime Minister John Key is challenging Australia’s attempt to redefine the Australia-New Zealand defence arrangement as being a part of ANZUS.
Mr Key’s comments at his post Cabinet press conference yesterday suggest there is a big difference between the Australian and New Zealand Governments over how the countries deal with each other on defence.
The Australian Defence White Paper published two weeks ago says “We (Australia and New Zealand) are close partners and ANZUS allies.”
But Mr Key says “it is more an ANZAC relationship in so much as Australia and New Zealand work together on some of these issues. Not always.
“They have a very different defence profile and capability obviously to New Zealand but they are well and truly aware that a long time ago we suspended ANZUS and we have no intention of re-joining.”
The Australian reference to its relationship with New Zealand appears to have surprised New Zealand officials and Ministers.
The Australians said they had consulted New Zealand when they prepared their White Paper.
So why did they make the reference to ANZUS?
MT key’s response: “They write lots of things down and describe things in different ways to us.”
Meanwhile suggestions that differences between Treasury and Defence over the forthcoming New Zealand White paper are apparently being resolved.
The Paper is expected to be published by the end of April with (presumably) a different description of the defence relationship with Australia.
Meanwhile the report on the Security Services will be considered by the Intelligence and Security Select Committee today.
The Committee is chaired by Mr key and includes the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, the Minister Responsible for the Security Services, Chris Finlayson; the Minister of Justice, Amy Adams and Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, David Shearer.
There are suggestions that the Review may favour greater centralisation of all the security and intelligence services operating within the Government sector.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that it was his intention that the entire review be made public and that it had been written in such a way that there was no need to redact anything.
The review was conducted by former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Cullen and Wellington businesswoman, Dame Patsy Reddy.