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Defence statement avoids hard decisions

Wayne Mapp
Opposition Defence Spokesperson
Monday 19 June 2000

Defence statement avoids hard decisions

The Government has washed its hands of the hard decisions on the future of New Zealand's Defence Forces, National Defence spokesperson Wayne Mapp said today.

"Instead of a policy we have 20 pages of platitudes with no decisions on crucial matters such as future air strike capability.

"There's nothing, for that matter, on the future of the armoured personnel carriers, the National Real Estate Review or future priorities for defence funding.

"We are now told there will be further reviews by November 2000.

"There is no excuse for this delay, especially since the Government has decided to ignore public opinion and refuse public consultation.

"But some things are clear. Instead of a balanced defence force, Helen Clark wants a niche force dependent on other countries to do the jobs we should be able to do ourselves. That is the hard lesson from East Timor that the Government has ignored.

"Critically, the Government has even failed its own test of re-equipping the Army. The very least one could expect is that the Government would follow through on National's programme to re-equip the Army. It's time the Army saw the equipment, including armoured personnel carriers.

"The apparent concentration on the Army ignores the instability in our region. The Solomon Islands have shown the importance of naval combat ability. Phil Goff himself recognised the value of Te Mana being deployed to the Solomons.

"East Timor demonstrated the need for balanced defence forces, with combat capability in each of the three services.

"Defence personnel were wanting decisions, and New Zealanders were wanting some certainty about future directions. Today's statement has delivered neither," Dr Mapp said.

Ends




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