Bye Bye Aussie, But Will You Protect Us?
The Government's plans to reduce New Zealand's defence force are dangerous in a region of instability, and will isolate our country from the very regional partners we need, National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said today. "We are too small to stand alone on defence. Now we are turning our backs on known risks and friends, Australia our strongest partner in particular, and expecting our neighbours to pay our insurance policies and secure our future.
"This will be the week remembered as the point when the Labour-Alliance Government made bludging off others an integral part of our defence policy. But the plan is not only bludging, it is dangerous, given the Asia-Pacific region's arc of instability above Australia.
"Helen Clark's short-sighted plan leaves New Zealand with a defence force of similar capability to that of Papua New Guinea and Fiji. We spend only about half what Australia and other countries spend on defence in proportion to size and wealth. "All other countries in the ASEAN region have, or soon will have, combat capable air forces and navies. This contrasts to New Zealand turning the other way. "This defence package is a result of the misplaced ideology of the 1970's peace movement. Helen Clark was part of it. She hasn't learned any lessons from the increasing instability in our region, proven by her extraordinary assertion that New Zealand lives in 'an incredibly benign strategic environment' (source Face the Nation 5 April). "New Zealand badly needs a full debate on the role and importance of defence to every New Zealander. The call made by the seven retired defence chiefs is absolutely right. National will lead that debate, as defence will be a defining issue in the next election. "We won't let Labour, the Alliance and the Greens drag New Zealand into the wilderness of international martyrdom and irrelevancy," Mr Bradford said.