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Clark comments US go easy on F16 deal disingenuous

Hon Max Bradford

National MP

23 February 2000

Clark's comments that US should go easy on F 16 deal disingenuous

Former Defence Minister Max Bradford today congratulated the United States Ambassador on her comments that New Zealand should honour the commitment made last year regarding the F16s.

"It is disingenuous for Prime Minister Helen Clark to demand that the United States pick up some of the cost of the cancellation of a contract entered into in good faith by the United States Government.

"The shape of the defence force under this Government is becoming disturbingly clear.

"Within five years or so, New Zealand will not have an effective naval combat force, nor will it have an airforce capable of doing anything more than transporting troops and providing VIP services to people like the Prime Minister.

"Last Friday the Minister of Defence outlined the Government's policy for the Navy. No third frigate will be ordered in spite of all the expert advice that we can not have a viable or credible naval combined force with less than three frigates.

"The Labour-Alliance Government intends instead to purchase two Danish ships with the primary capability to transport army troops and equipment.

"Make no mistake, the Government's intention is to disembowel our defence forces and to convert them into a purely peace-keeping force based around the army.

"This will not be a defence force. We can not defend New Zealand with an army alone, nor will New Zealand be able to provide frontline defence and security forces to others in our region such as Australia and Singapore, who will now have to share a larger burden for peace and security.

"If the Government cancels the F16 contract, and doesn't intend to replace our last leander frigate, inside five years there will be no sharp end to our defence forces," Mr Bradford said.

Ends


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