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Defence spend-up exercise in 'damage limitation'

Murray McCully MP National Party Defence Spokesman

17 October 2006

Defence spend-up exercise in 'damage limitation'

National Party Defence spokesman Murray McCully says Labour's defence announcements today are little more than a "transparent exercise in damage limitation after damning criticism in successive annual reports".

The Defence Force Annual Report, released ahead of the Auditor-General's report last week, says a lack of staff and poor equipment means parts of the army would struggle to cope with 'high-level threats', while special forces lacked skilled people and equipment to deal with some terrorist threats.

"Labour's reliance on New Zealand's isolation to protect us from the threat of terrorism is naïve and ill-founded. No country is immune. Labour is failing in its primary duty to protect the state, and to keep our country, its infrastructure, and its citizens safe.

"Today's announcements are merely a device to shut down debate about Labour's failures in this area."

The Defence Force Annual Report said the defence force failed to meet many of its operational targets across almost every arm of the service. (See attached)

"This report paints a grim picture about New Zealand's readiness to deal with a terrorist attack and is littered with criticism of across-the-board skills shortages and equipment failures.

"It shows little improvement on last year's annual report, much of it reads identically, and in some areas the situation's got worse, like the slump in satisfaction with employment."

National believes New Zealand must be prepared and able to work effectively with countries committed to freedom and democracy, as well as to make specialist contributions to operations to defeat terrorism and ensure global security.

"The Defence Force annual report sheds real doubt on our ability to do that," says Mr McCully.

ENDS

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