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Dunne calls for ANZAC military force

Dunne calls for ANZAC military force

United Future New Zealand leader, Peter Dunne, today called for much greater co-operation and integration between the New Zealand and Australian defence forces.

Following discussions this week with members of Australia's Parliamentary defence committee, Mr Dunne said he had detected a growing desire for the two nations to better meet their regional defence and surveillance operations through more efficient use of the defence forces' differing strengths and capabilities.

"Both countries have limited defence capacity and integration of some services makes good sense.

"For example,

* we could expand our maritime surveillance capability through better use of both countries' Orion aircraft;

* our special operations forces, like the SAS, could work much more closely together,

* our armies could combine to form a joint ANZAC battalion,

* a joint ANZAC air force could be created using Kiwi-trained pilots and Australian-owned aircraft."

Mr Dunne expressed his disappointment that the Minister of Defence, under questioning in Parliament today, appeared reluctant even to consider the idea of working more closely with Australia, falling back on clichés about New Zealand's sovereignty and failing to consider innovative ideas to improve Australasia's defence performance.

"It flies in the face of reality to suggest there cannot be greater defence integration between Australia and New Zealand given our shared history, the ANZAC bond and our closer economic relations.

"We need only look at Europe, which has torn itself apart by war in the last 100 years, but now has not only political and economic integration through the European Union, but also defence integration through NATO.

"Closer ANZAC defence integration within the next five years is virtually inevitable in my view," concluded Mr Dunne.

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