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Please Mr Power—take the briefing

27 January 2004 Media Statement

Please Mr Power—take the briefing

Minister of Defence Mark Burton is again offering National Defence spokesman Simon Power the briefing he so urgently needs.

“Mr Power is still confused about what it means to actually invest in New Zealand’s Defence Force. This government is systematically re-equipping all three branches of the NZDF—a process that was made necessary through the nine years of neglect visited on it by the previous National government.

“The Ministry of Defence is currently evaluating tenders for a 15-year life extending upgrade of our C-130 Hercules Fleet and a mission systems upgrade for our P3 Orions, as well as upgrading the communications and navigation systems for both fleets of aircraft.

“This, coupled with our purchase last year of two 757 jet aircraft to replace the Air Force’s ageing 727 transport planes, represents an investment of close to $1 billion in our Air Force alone. Other projects, including a project to replace our utility and training helicopter fleet, the purchase of new naval vessels, the Army’s new Light Armoured Vehicles, Tactical Communications Equipment, and Light Operational Vehicles, will bring defence acquisitions over the next decade to well over $3 billion.

“National had nearly a decade to put their money where their mouth was. Instead, they left our servicemen and women to struggle with Vietnam-era equipment and a ship that was ideal for transporting oranges, not troops. Their so-called “pro-Defence” government couldn’t even see its way clear to raise their wages more than once in nine years.

“This government is building a modern, sustainable, well-equipped Defence Force—one that is making a significant contribution to missions around the world. We have not only undertaken a focussed acquisitions programme, but we have directly invested in our personnel with three government-funded pay rises in as many years.

“The Army made the decision to develop their new logo as part of recruiting and retaining the kind of world-class personnel we are internationally renowned for. I would suggest to Mr Power, who has himself noted that National and National-led governments did not allow defence spending to keep pace in the 1990s, that such an investment is money well-spent.

“Please Mr Power—get a grip on real Defence issues.”

ENDS

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