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Max's Memory loss

The National Party's spokesperson on Defence cannot be taken seriously when he talks of boosting Defence spending, the Minister of Defence Mark Burton said.

"Speaking cynically in the certainty of many years ahead in opposition, Max Bradford knows he will never have to deliver on his empty words.

"During the 1990's - National's Decade of Decay - the New Zealand Defence Force was savaged by the biggest budget cuts in its history.

"When our soldiers were sent to Bosnia in 1995, their armoured personnel carriers and radios were antiquated and inadequate for the demands they were to face. It is to Mr Bradford's everlasting shame that the same equipment had to be sent to East Timor four years later because his Government had done nothing – except cut the defence budget even further.

"In the end Mr Bradford became obsessed with fancy fighter jets, instead of meeting the real and urgent needs of our Defence Force.

"It is clear that despite being 'spelled' for a year by his leader, that obsession remains.

"He mistakenly suggests that in any future peace-keeping commitment New Zealand would need to provide a self-sustaining force of army troops, naval ships and air cover.

"New Zealand has never acted unilaterally in any military action. In every foreseeable future circumstance, we would provide a component of a multi-nation force.

"It is reckless and irresponsible of Mr Bradford to suggest that a small nation like New Zealand can maintain and support the entire range of military capabilities. We cannot do everything – what we can do, we must do well.

"This Government has brought an end to a decade of decline. We have already invested in the most urgent defence equipment needs. In a coordinated and comprehensive manner we are pursuing a strategy which will enable New Zealand to perform to the highest professional level those functions which meet our defence and security requirements," Mark Burton said.

Ends

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