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National Meets With Australian Defence Minister

3 September 2002

National Meets With Australian Defence Minister

National raised its core defence principals of credible forces and inter-operability with Australia at a meeting between Australian Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill and National Defence Spokesperson Richard Worth today.

Also present at the discussion was the High Commissioner for Australia, Mr Robert Cotton.

"We took the opportunity to discuss the merit of project Sirius (the project to upgrade the Orion maritime patrol aircraft), which the present New Zealand Government has abandoned, the utility of the ANZAC frigate squadron and the decision of the New Zealand Government to scrap the air combat force," Mr Worth said.

"We also discussed the fact that New Zealand spends 0.9 p% of GDP on defence, a stark contrast to the 1.9% spent by Australia.

"It is worth noting that just five days' welfare spending would return New Zealand's armed forces to international credibility over time. That would take us to approximately 1.5% of GDP.

"Senator Hill made it clear that he was keen to have further discussions on defence issues with the National Party.

"The problem for New Zealand is that the Labour Government has redesigned our defence force in the mistaken belief that we face what the Prime Minister calls a 'benign strategic environment'. After 11 September 2001 all that changed," Mr Worth said.

Ends


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