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Budget Starves Defence

23 May 2002

"There isn't much comfort in the 2002 Budget for the New Zealand Defence Force," said Max Bradford, National's Defence Spokesperson.

The Budget shows that appropriations for the defence force will fall slightly over the next few years, at a time when the Government is imposing significant demands on the NZDF for re-equipment projects.

"New Zealand will now be spending below 1 percent of GDP (0.9% reducing to 0.8% in 2005) on defence in the Government's three year plan, putting New Zealand well behind Australia which is spending 2.5 percent of GDP. This confirms again New Zealand is the poor relation, reliant on bludging off Australia for defence.

"In spite of disarming the air force last year, and the money freed up, the Government's Budget still shows an alarming shortfall in funding for new equipment. That much was revealed yesterday when the list of capital projects needed to meet the Government's own policies overshot the money available by 20 to 40 percent.

"I confidently predict a major funding crisis in the NZDF over the next few years as the three year forecasts in the Budget do not allow any increase for inflation, especially military equipment inflation which always exceeds the general rate of inflation.

"So the message for NZDF personnel in this budget is clear: don't get your hopes up, as the Labour-Alliance Government is cutting expenditure on defence in real terms," Mr Bradford said.

Ends

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