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Real results needed from Australian defence talks


Simon Power MP National Party Defence Spokesman

25 June 2003

Real results needed from Australian defence talks

The National Party says the Government needs to get tangible results from defence talks in Australia.

"Australia is our most important ally, its crucial to regional security that we work together with our neighbours," says National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power.

He's commenting on the upcoming annual meeting between Defence Minister Mark Burton and his Australian counterpart Senator Robert Hill.

"Labour may think we're operating in a 'benign defence environment', it's clear from the recent defence commitments in the Australian budget that they don't share the same view," says Mr Power.

"The National Party is eager to see results from these talks.

"They should include cast iron assurances about interoperability.

"We're also keen to learn whether there's still a place for New Zealand in joint exercises, given reports that the US is poised to base thousands of troops in Australia," Mr Power says.

"It's critical that Mark Burton repair some of the damage done to a relationship that's soured in recent times.

"The annual talks have never been more important," says Mr Power.

"With the US signalling increased security in the Pacific, New Zealand must speak with a clear, consistent voice.

"There is no more room for wild swings in our foreign and defence policies.

"New Zealand must be a reliable partner, that is prepared to pull its weight," he says.

Ends

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