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Aus. Minister's disparaging comments rejected

24 August 2000

Australian Minister's disparaging comments rejected

Green MP Keith Locke has rejected Australian Defence Minister John Moore's claim that the Project Sirius Orion upgrade would have been "good value" [NZPA, August].

"It's strange he thinks spending $550 million on an anti-submarine capability is 'good value' when there is absolutely no submarine threat to New Zealand," he said.

Mr Locke said the Minister should stop trying to tell New Zealand how to spend our taxpayers' money.

"Mr Moore disparages New Zealand as not being able to 'fully monitor its sovereign waters' without the Project Sirius upgrade.

"If he thought we were letting rogue fishers go free, or falling down on search and rescue, he should have spoken out before now," he said.

"Otherwise, his comments can only be seen as an attempt to keep New Zealand beholden to Australia in the procurement of defence equipment.

"He talks about us being 'interoperable' with Australia. But really he is saying 'do as we do'.

"Harmonious trans-Tasman defence co-operation can't be built on that basis," said Mr Locke.

Keith Locke MP: 04 470 6710, 025 528 353

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