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Govt defence agenda will write NZ out of region

Dr Wayne Mapp, MP

Opposition Defence Spokesperson

24 February 2000

Govt defence agenda will write NZ out of region

The Government's defence stance means that New Zealand is in real danger of writing itself out of the region, National's Defence spokesman Wayne Mapp said.

"Our most important defence obligation is to work with our closest ally, Australia, to maintain regional security, and therefore peace.

"A defence force based largely around the army will not be able to play a full role in the ANZAC partnership. The Government can not afford to be cavalier in its obligations to our region.

"A balanced defence force with air combat, naval combat and a strong army is essential to play a full part in the region. Anything less will be abrogating responsibilities that we ought to shoulder.

Dr Mapp's comments come in the wake of harsh criticism from Paul Dibb, from Australia National University. Professor Dibb said New Zealand was effectively already protected by Australia and was becoming a strategic liability.

"Professor Dibb has made a good point. New Zealand must play a full part in regional security - or risk alienating our best friend, and our most important security partner - Australia.

"We have made a substancial commitment to East Timor and I know that has been appreciated by the Australians.

"But the stakes are high. This Government is quite simply gambling with New Zealand's future in a way that most New Zealanders, once they understand the full implications, will not be impressed with. The long term damage to New Zealand's relationship and reputation with Australia will be immense and could go well beyond our defence relationship," Dr Mapp said.

Ends


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