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RSA deplores Govt defence cuts

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesperson

12 June 2001

RSA deplores Govt defence cuts

The stunning rebuke by the Royal NZRSA of the Government's defence policy the same day the Prime Minister announced the awarding of post-WWII medals shows the hypocrisy of the Government's approach to the future, National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said today.

"Helen Clark can't get support for her defence cuts by dealing to the understandable historical grievances of our veterans. Yet that is the cynical approach she and her Government have chosen instead of protecting young New Zealanders in the future.

"Helen Clark can't buy the support of the RSA for a deplorable defence policy with medals.

"She has isolated New Zealand from our partners in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia in particular.

"Last week I joined a Foreign Affairs select committee delegation in Canberra. The attitude of Australian politicians towards New Zealand had soured significantly since the Government's decision to cut New Zealand's defence capabilities.

"Unfortunately the RSA's comments are correct that New Zealand is 'fast losing any real allies ... very soon we will have few friends who can rely on us, or we on them, in times of trouble'.

"It will take time for the effects to filter through to New Zealand. We have already lost out in the social security agreement with Australia.

"We are now experiencing in subtle ways a distanced relationship from Australia. In years to come New Zealand will be the poor relation in many other aspects to Australia and become distanced from other partners in the region," Mr Bradford said.

Ends

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