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PM's submarine claims don't hold water

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesman

25 March 2001

PM's submarine claims don't hold water

"Helen Clark has been caught out gerrymandering New Zealand's defence policy. She is deliberately using a dodgy claim, that the Air Force Orions haven't found any submarines 'in the entire time we've been trying to spot them', to justify not properly equipping the Air Force for our future defence needs," National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said today.

Official information released over the weekend shows that since 1970 the Orions have found over 15 submarines in the Asia-Pacific region and in waters close to New Zealand. Some of them were nuclear powered and presumably nuclear armed.

"Helen Clark's reaction was not to accept the facts, which have been known for some time by people in the defence sector, but to lose her temper over a proper release under the Official Information Act. She would rather try and hide the facts from New Zealanders, than tell us the truth and let people decide whether her Government's defence policy is the right one," Mr Bradford said.

"These facts blow a huge hole in her argument, which she is using to justify an expected Government decision to scale back the military role of the Orions by not replacing their ageing submarine detection equipment

"I am astounded that the Prime Minister should deny the facts, particularly as there were obviously nuclear powered and nuclear armed vessels ploughing our waters in defiance of New Zealand's nuclear-free policy. Is this a case where Helen Clark would rather have us turn a blind eye by pretending there are no submarines when in fact there are?

"New Zealand should not build its defence policy on a lie. We should be prepared for every key threat we could face over the next 10 to 20 years. Clearly the Prime Minister would have us do otherwise," Max Bradford said.


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