Arrogant Government Knows Best On Defence Policy
United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne, says today's defence announcements are marked by more arrogance than a commitment to sound and enduring policy.
Mr Dunne says that the Government has failed both to engender a robust defence debate and to seek any form of consensus for its far-reaching decisions.
"It has simply determined that its prejudices will prevail, regardless of any facts to the contrary."
"The reviews carried out by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet were a sham, with the review team rejecting advice and information that did not suit its predetermined views."
"Defence personnel were shut out of the review process, with their role limited to providing factual information on as required basis only," he says.
Mr Dunne says that while the Government's announcement of a 10 year expenditure programme is a good idea, which United Future supports, it will fail in practice because it is not accompanied by any intention on the Government's part to establish wider political consensus for the direction it proposes for the defence forces, the Air Force and the Navy in particular.
"To that extent, today's decisions add to uncertainty, rather than reduce it."
"The secretive and partisan way in which this process has been carried out gives no confidence that today's announcements will survive this Government, nor do they give any reassurance to friends and allies about our long-term reliability as a defence partner."
"In the absence of apparent interest by the Government in engaging in a wider debate to achieve consensus, today's decisions seemed doomed to fail."
"It is ironic that at a time when we are seeking wider economic relationships through collaborative free trade agreements, we are retreating into defence isolationism."
"We cannot have it both ways," Mr Dunne says.