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Defence spending a disgrace - Power

Defence spending a disgrace - Power

National’s Defence spokesman Simon Power says the New Zealand Defence Force hasn’t got a hope of carrying out duties properly, including disaster relief and humanitarian aid, in the face of rundown resources.

Mr Power was commenting on news of another breakdown of a C130 Hercules, this time in Niue at the height of relief efforts by the Defence Force in the region.

“This is a huge embarrassment,” says Mr Power. “New Zealand defence personnel are highly regarded for their expertise and manpower in the field but, once again, shoddy equipment has let them down.

“In August last year, New Zealand soldiers had to wait nearly a week to get to the Solomon Islands because four of our five Hercules were grounded and the fifth was working in the Afghanistan region.

“Nine months earlier troops returning from East Timor were stuck, unable to get home, because a Hercules was delayed in Christchurch with equipment problems.

“Three of our five Hercules are 38 years old, so equipment failure is hardly surprising,” says Mr Power.

“Our defence spending is a disgrace. This Government spends just 0.9 percent of GDP on defence, while Australia spends 1.7 percent of GDP, or A$11 billion, on defence.

“Labour’s been quick to stress that the key aim of the Defence Force is peacekeeping, search and rescue and disaster relief. But how can it do the job properly without adequate equipment?” asks Mr Power.

“It appears this Government just has a different perspective on defence needs. After all, there’s enough money in the coffers to buy shiny new VIP jets for the Prime Minister’s jaunts to overseas destinations,” he says.

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