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It's a question of priorities

It's a question of priorities

Today's announcement of the purchase and imminent arrival of 757s to replace the aging 727s is welcome, but it is a pity that other defence procurements could not have been given a higher priority, says National's defence spokesperson Simon Power.

"We have a situation where Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel will be heading off to Operation Enduring Freedom in the Middle East in a substandard Orion, while VIPs will now travel in comfort in new jets," says Mr Power.

"Any comprehensive defence policy should focus on upgrading New Zealand's ability to defend its strategic interests and work with our traditional allies, rather than simply buying new hardware. The Orion communications, navigation and sensor upgrade National announced in 1998 would have done this, and would been completed by now."

Unfortunately, says Mr Power, Labour decided to cancel that programme. It has only been re-tendered this year.

"It's all a question of priorities really - a nice comfortable trip for the PM or an effective contribution to the protection of New Zealand's strategic interests. It's clear what Labour has chosen," says Simon Power.

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