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Defence Review Produces Half Way House Solution

19 June 2000

DEFENCE REVIEW PRODUCES HALF WAY HOUSE SOLUTION

The Government's Defence Review has produced a half-way house, that is neither one thing nor the other, says United New Zealand leader, Hon Peter Dunne.

Mr Dunne says the policy deals with all the obvious issues but "duck-shoves" the difficult issues off into the future.

"It does not really say anything of substance at all."

"There was a well acknowledged case for upgrading the Army, but the real issues the Defence Review has failed to grapple with are the future roles of the Air Force and the Navy."

"The Review has simply passed those over for another day."

"In that regard, the Review changes nothing, and morale in those services will continue to deteriorate, and senior officers will continue to leave, thus depleting the base of experience."

"At the very least, the Review should have produced some statements of principle regarding the roles envisaged for the Air Force and the Navy in the future, but even this basic plan appears lacking," he says.

Mr Dunne has also criticised the fact that the Australian Defence Minister was made privy to the details of the Review before the New Zealand Cabinet signed off on it.

"That has the hallmarks of a sheepish Government trying to appease the Australians, so that they would not be too critical of the policy, and hardly inspires any confidence in the Government's intentions," he says.

Mr Dunne says defence policy is becoming an increasingly important issue for New Zealand as recent incidents of regional instability show.

"We need a consistent and viable approach in the long term, not more short-term political game playing, and in that regard, I repeat my call for a multiparty Defence Summit to be convened to attempt to gain agreement on a 10 year capital funding programme for the New Zealand Defence Forces," he says.

ENDS




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