Heed foreign influence warnings - Peters

By Talisa Kupenga

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says advice about outsiders attempts to gain political influence here should be taken seriously.

This comes after former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said New Zealand and Australia should seriously heed experts' warnings of Chinese efforts to gain political influence in the region.

National opposition leader Simon Bridges says he's not worried but that New Zealand would not want this sort of influence from any outside country.

"If this is a more general American concern it would be great to see them engage more in the economic architecture that we have- particularly [the] TPP".

Peters will make a budget announcement tonight which could see more funds for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).  The sector has not seen an increase baseline funding since 2008.

He says, "It's not a victory for foreign affairs or MFAT, it is seriously what's critically required to even do the job that we've set out to do and it's a critical job for our long term prosperity and security.  Make no bones about it, I wish I could have done much better".

Bridges says, "We've heard them go back on a promise to do those cheaper GP visits from July 1st for hardworking NZ families, I would have thought that's a much higher priority than money going offshore".

Peters expects Australia will also step up their commitment to the Pacific after tonight's pre-budget announcement.