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Kiwis Left Behind As Australian Army Expands

Kiwis Left Behind As Australian Army Expands

Heather Roy Wednesday, 16 August 2006 Press Releases - Defence

Reports that Australia may be considering increasing the size of their army by 20% paints a stark contrast to New Zealand's inability to play a meaningful peacekeeping role in Lebanon, says ACT National Security Spokesman, Heather Roy.

"'The Australian' reports that Australia's army may increase to 30,000 soldiers over the next decade, while our Regular and Territorial Forces are at critically low levels", Mrs Roy said.

"An increase of 5,000 Australian soldiers represents almost the entire full time New Zealand Army.

"New Zealand's heavy commitment in East Timor and the Solomons is no excuse for ignoring our obligations to keep the peace in other parts of the world.

"It's time for Helen Clark to pull her head out of her 'benign strategic environment' and accept - like John Howard has - that we live in an unstable region.

"If New Zealand is to continue playing an active role in peacekeeping, we need the recruits and resources for deployments.

"Our Territorial Air Force and Naval Reserve are significantly under strength. These two services need to be built up and used as a retention pool.

"While New Zealand's army will never be as large as Australia's, we must maintain the ability to pull our weight alongside our neighbours, in both peace and war.

"We need more people making the choice to serve our country - and that means better recognition, remuneration and respect.

"New Zealand, like Australia, should consider more innovative recruiting practices - including simplification of process and incentives.

"We rarely give our defence forces the credit that they deserve, although they are enormously well respected around the world", Mrs Roy said.

ENDS


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