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Burton must say whether he will delay re-equipping


Wayne Mapp
Opposition Defence Spokesman
Sunday 18 June 2000

Burton must say whether he will delay re-equipping Army

Unrest is growing in Army circles over fears the purchase of Armoured Personnel Carriers may be shelved for a number of years.

"It seems that Labour can't even honour its commitment to re-equip the Army. Delays will only lead to a collapse in morale, as has happened in the Air Force since the canning of the F-16 deal," National's Defence spokesperson Wayne Mapp said today.

"The National Government made in-principle decisions on Army re-equipment over two years ago. That included the APCs, along with new tactical radios, new light vehicles and new direct fire weapons.

"The Budget announcement that there would be no capital injection for Defence heralds another year of inaction. New Zealand has been waiting six months for the Minister of Defence to make a decision on the Army's re-equipment programme. The Budget has come and gone and New Zealanders are still waiting.

"It's time for Mr Burton to make these decisions. The Army desperately needs new equipment because its current equipment is now up to 30 years old. Unless it is replaced army equipment will be further run down and the lives of New Zealand service personnel could be put at risk.

"Unless the Government makes a firm commitment in this week's statement of defence capital requirements, it will be left to the next National Government to re-equip our armed forces," Dr Mapp said.

Ends

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