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Labour Downgrading ANZAC Partnership

Dr Wayne Mapp, MP Opposition Defence Spokesperson

28 February 2000

Labour downgrading ANZAC partnership

Helen Clark is unilaterally changing a fundamental tenet of New Zealand's defence policy in advance of her trip to Australia, says Dr Wayne Mapp, National Spokesperson on Defence.

"New Zealand and Australia are a 'single strategic entity'. A threat to one is effectively a threat to the other. This has underpinned the ANZAC relationship for nearly a century. Labour is abandoning this concept in a clear signal that they do not take the relationship seriously.

"Helen Clark has no right to make such a dramatic change to our foreign and defence policy without wider public consultation.

"There has never been any question that the two countries can not have different defence and foreign policy perspectives, and the nuclear ships row illustrates this well. The concept of the single strategic entity is intended to deal with threats to the sovereignty and security of the two countries," said Dr Mapp.

"A balanced defence force is required to deal with the full range of possible threats to New Zealand and Australia - low, such as Bougainville, medium, as seen with East Timor, and high, as with a direct threat to the territory and security of both countries."

"The very clear message from Australia is that they expect New Zealand to be able to contribute to each level in order to be an effective partner. That means a range of defence options within a balanced defence force, not just the single option of land forces as appears to be Labour's intention."

"We can not defend New Zealand and Australia only with land forces. It also requires credible naval and air power, given the geography of the two countries and the region. That means sticking with the F16 deal, and maintaining a blue water navy.

"Labour simply needs to take a lesson in geography to see why naval and air combat power is so highly important to cover the full range of obligations of the ANZAC partnership," Dr Mapp said.

Ends


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