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Prime Minister cripples Defence again

Dr Wayne Mapp National's Defence Spokesperson

21 January 2001

Prime Minister cripples Defence again

Is Helen Clark proposing that our navy should comprise of two frigates and one tanker?

This is the question National's Defence spokesperson Dr Wayne Mapp has put to the Prime Minister following her comments that a troops and supply carrier ship like the Charles Upham has possibly no future in New Zealand's defence force.

"Her view that you can increase New Zealand's defence capability by cutting capability after capability is bizarre.

"What's more it is completely wrong to talk about the Charles Upham in isolation. In the bigger picture a logistics ship like this is an invaluable part of our defence force.

"While spending a lot more money would buy better capabilities, the Charles Upham represents good value, particularly when you compare it to buying a new ship at $300 million.

"Every time Helen Clark talks about defence New Zealand defences suffer. Under the guise of her constructing a new defence force we end up with less, not more. Simply re-equipping the army with armoured personnel carriers is not a defence policy.

"Over the past 14 months the Prime Minister has led the charge on progressively running down our defence force. We have seen the costly cancellation of the F16s, there are grave fears over the future of the air force's Orion squadron, and now she's indicating that the navy shouldn't have a logistics ship.

"I challenge her to tell New Zealand what the future holds for our navy and defences forces under her regime," Dr Mapp said.

Ends

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