International analyst: 'We've got a part time Foreign Minister'

Our Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, is coming under increasing pressure as China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, continues his tour of the Pacific. 

China has already signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, in cooperation agreements with Samoa and Kiribati, while the US has convinced Fiji to join its new Indo-Pacific economic framework for prosperity. 

International analyst with the Democracy Project, Geoffrey Miller, joined Rachel Smalley on Tuesday morning to talk about the criticism Mahuta is facing. 

"She's certainly not travelling at the moment and that's the big problem," Miller said.

"She's made only three foreign trips since she was appointed Foreign Minister back in November 2020, and only one to the Pacific - to Fiji back in March, and it's just not enough at the moment."

Miller said the newly elected Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, made two foreign trips in her first few days. Last week, she went to a Quad meeting between India, the US, Japan and Australia, and she also went to Fiji. 

"So she really got cracking and that was quite a strong signal in terms of what Australia is going to be doing in the Pacific - which is being very proactive.

"Nanaia Mahuta is very much tied up in domestic issues and three waters, in particular, for a local government portfolio.

"It's a real problem that we've got, effectively, a part time Foreign Minister at the moment when geopolitical tension is really breaking out at the moment," said Miller.

Listen to the full interview between Geoffrey Miller and Rachel Smalley above.

You can also download the full interview on the First Light podcast, and listen on the go. Check it out on the rova app or wherever you get your podcasts.