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New Zealand shortchanged on defence

Simon Power MP National Party Defence Spokesman

30 July 2003

New Zealand shortchanged on defence

The Government's idealistic approach to New Zealand's defence needs is leaving us drastically under resourced in what is an increasingly uncertain world environment, says National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power.

"The Government is cynically using Kiwi troops to mend the fences with our traditional friends and allies, but it isn't prepared to give them the tools they need to do the job.

"Reports today say there are big shortages at many levels of the Army, Navy and Airforce and promised new equipment has yet to arrive.

"There have been previous reports of a staffing crisis which show our defence forces have an attrition rate of nearly twice that of Canada.

"It has also been suggested that the Army will struggle to man the new Light Armoured Vehicles (LAV 3's) that are due for delivery in September.

"Just last month Defence Minister Mark Burton was in Australia promising that New Zealand would work more closely with our nearest neighbour.

"That's going to be tough, as the Governments of New Zealand and Australia have hugely different views on defence.

"In the post Bali environment, Australia is spending $15.8 billion on defence over the next five years.

"Labour, which claims we live in a 'benign defence environment', is spending just $1.9 billion.

"It's also worrying that New Zealanders with vital experience, who share concerns about the state of our defence capability, are being shut out of the argument.

"Former defence bosses and independent analysts like Defence Quarterly and the Centre for Strategic Studies are being denied the opportunity to present an alternative view because of the way they are now funded.

"There's a shortage of real detail.

"If New Zealand's role as a Pacific peacekeeper is to be expanded, as suggested, the Labour Government must give defence the financial ammunition it needs to do the job," Mr Power says.

Ends

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