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Defence Spending Lowest In Asia-Pacific

Defence Spending Lowest In Asia-Pacific

New Zealand's defence spending - as a proportion of total Government spending - is now the lowest of any developed country in the Asia-Pacific region, ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Defence Spokesman Ken Shirley revealed today.

"Despite increased Government spending, mainly on welfare, our funding levels for defence have remained relatively constant, at $1.2 billion - less than three percent of core Government spending, or around 0.9 percent of GDP," Mr Shirley said.

"Defence spending is projected to drop to 0.8 percent of GDP over the next two years - it's no wonder some of our close friends - like Australia, which spends A$11 billion or 1.7 percent of GDP on defence - think we're bludgers and freeloaders

"Our defence and security spending is ridiculously low. Even countries to whom we send foreign aid spend more on defence - Indonesia spends US$2 billion or 1 percent of its GDP on defence. And the poor quality of our spending makes matters even worse.

"Prime Minister Helen Clark scrapped our air force strike capacity, in favour of peace-keeping style armoured vehicles, which - while useful in sending our troops to the world's hot spots to supplement UN efforts - are useless in defending New Zealand.

"All this helps Ms Clark to curry favour with the UN - one could be forgiven for thinking she's trying to land herself the next Secretary General job. It is disgraceful that she allocates resources to looks good to the UN, rather than focusing on the country's defence.

"Any Government's primary responsibility is to defend its people and its borders. But not according to Ms Clark - who claims we live in a benign part of the world, even after the Bali bombing.

"International peacekeeping is all well and good, but it is a luxury for richer countries. Labour should concentrate first on addressing future threats to our security, and to putting our weight behind our traditional allies, rather than bad-mouthing them. Unfortunately for us, there's a long way to go," Mr Shirley said.

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