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Labour’s Defence Spending Focussed On The Now

New Zealand’s defence spending is being driven by the immediate needs of East Timor rather than the country’s long term strategic interests, said ACT leader Hon Richard Prebble.

Yesterday Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Command said New Zealand “…should be focusing on high-technology equipment rather than bulk numbers of troops for peacekeeping.”

“The Prime Minister has straightjacketed the New Zealand defence forces into low skilled labouring. New Zealand should be concentrating on meeting long term strategic goals like coastal surveillance. Large labour intensive armies should be provided by countries with natural advantages in that resource.

“The government’s decisions are decimating morale. In the last three weeks nine air force pilots have quit, including four of the seven Orion captains who fly search and rescue missions. Air force commanders have admitted ‘lesser-experienced pilots would be needed to fly aircraft like the Orions’

“The Orion upgrade was a top Defence 2000 priority and was an important step towards reaffirming New Zealand’s commitment to the western defence alliance.

“New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone is the fourth largest in the world behind the United States, Australia and Indonesia. The Crown is preparing a case to the United Nations to extend the zone by 200kms (70 per cent).

“Our claim will without doubt be strengthened if we are able to show we are exercising ownership such as having regular Orion surveillance flights.

“The New Zealand armed forces need to invest in high technology like the Orion surveillance equipment that is equally valuable to New Zealand in both war and peace. Labour’s defence spending is being driven by the immediate needs of East Timor rather than the country’s long term strategic interests,” said Hon Richard Prebble.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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