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NZ welcomes Australian Defence White Paper

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton has welcomed the release of the Australian Defence White Paper, which he says has reiterated the special relationship between New Zealand and Australia.

"In the ANZAC tradition, the Australian Government recognises that, as a matter of course, we would come to each other's help in time of trouble.

"The White Paper acknowledges the high quality of New Zealand forces and expresses gratitude for our "outstanding contribution" in East Timor. All members of the New Zealand Defence Force can take pride in this public expression of thanks.

"The White Paper correctly notes that while our strategic interests are closely aligned, our two countries do have different strategic perceptions.

"That is fully in keeping with our Government's position, as stated in the Defence Policy Framework, that while there is no strategic partnership closer than that with Australia, New Zealand's defence and security policies will be based on New Zealand's own assessment of the security environment.

"Like New Zealand, Australia has to make choices on what defence capabilities it can afford to sustain. Given its size and geographic position, Australia plans to focus on high tech air and maritime capabilities, along with a new focus on rapidly deployable land forces.

"New Zealand will invest first in the depth required for land capability, supported by Navy and Air Force. As the White Paper notes and commends, New Zealand has made recent decisions to ensure our land forces are equipped adequately for a range of likely contingencies.

"Other capabilities remain under review," Mark Burton said. "It is not unexpected that the White Paper expresses an Australian view on the possible outcomes of those reviews.

"I would like to thank the Australian Government for the advance briefing on the White Paper which I received last month. Like New Zealand, Australia is taking a long-term view of defence requirements, and our two countries will always retain a very close defence relationship," Mark Burton said.

Ends

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