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Govt bets on 'benign' defence environment

Simon Power National Party Defence Spokesman

16 May 2003

Govt bets on 'benign' defence environment

New Zealand's defence needs in an increasingly uncertain world have been completely overlooked by Labour in its 'no growth' Budget.

"When terrorists can strike at Australian tourists in Bali, it's clear New Zealand is not as isolated as the Government would like to believe," says National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power.

"The Government is betting on the assumption that we are living in a 'benign' strategic environment while all common sense now suggests we are not.

"Compare New Zealand's lack of spending with Australia, which this week announced a defence spending increase of $2.1 billion over five years," Mr Power says.

"Australia is spending $15.8 billion on defence in the next year versus the New Zealand figure of just $1.9 billion.

"Given the funding priorities announced by Michael Cullen yesterday, it's inevitable that New Zealand will now be accused of not taking its obligations seriously," says Mr Power.

"It's also concerning that the Government hasn't made defence a priority after Helen Clark single handedly put us on the outer with our closest friends and allies.

"We continue to collect the insurance, but we're no longer paying the premiums," Mr Power says.

"Until the Labour Government wakes up to the fact that the world is no longer as safe as it once was, New Zealand has its head in the sand.

"More attention to defence would have sent a strong message to our friends and allies, that New Zealand is prepared to pull its weight.

"It may have also gone part of the way to reassuring Australia and the US, that New Zealand will continue to take part in fulfilling its international obligations," says Mr Power.


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