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God Defend NZ Because Govt Won't

"God will need to defend New Zealand with the emerging Labour-Alliance government defence policy," National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said today.

"The scaling down of New Zealand's defence forces signalled by Helen Clark will rob us of a full peacekeeping force as well as our air and sea combat capability.

"Helen Clark's comments that a submarine hasn't been spotted by an Orion in 35 years are simply not true. Defence experts say at least 100 submarines operate in the Asia-Pacific region and subs have been detected in our waters.

"To say we should drop our airforce combat capability because an Orion hasn't fired a shot in anger for decades is ridiculous. The airforces of Nordic countries, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Italy, Spain and several others haven't either, but they believe - rightly - that combat capability is essential.

"Maintaining a full defence force is a necessary insurance policy for New Zealand. I've had my house insured for decades, and just because I haven't had a fire doesn't mean I should take the risk of not being insured.

"She is ignoring the United Nations message that the dangerous nature of peacekeeping means countries like ours operating peacekeeping forces need a balanced defence force to back up peacekeepers.

"New Zealand peacekeepers in East Timor were in a dangerous position before that conflict was resolved. It was closer to armed conflict than peacekeeping.

"For Helen Clark to pretend we are never going to need air cover and sea support for our peacekeepers is sheer folly, as is her isolationist stance to reduce New Zealand's defence force. We should not have to bludge off other countries to support our troops on the ground.

"Asian and Pacific countries can't understand the path New Zealand is taking given recent conflicts. The entire archipalegic region from East Timor to the Solomons is under immense pressure.

"We shouldn't do away with the insurance policy just because we haven't been in combat," Mr Bradford said.


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