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Pollyanna Phil defends Defence Force indefensible

Wayne Mapp MP
National Party Defence Spokesman

4 September 2008

Pollyanna Phil defends Defence Force indefensible

Revelations that New Zealand’s entire Defence Force is critically ill-resourced are in direct contradiction to Phil Goff’s Pollyanna view of his portfolio, says National’s Defence spokesman, Wayne Mapp.

“The latest annual report shows there are severe staff shortages and major problems with operational equipment, and yet Defence Minister Phil Goff makes the astonishing statement that, ‘Our Defence Force is the best-equipped it’s ever been.’

“This is an absolutely extraordinary statement when one of the navy’s frigates, Te Kaha, was at sea for only three months instead of five, none of the navy’s six new patrol craft is yet in service, and only two of their five Seasprite helicopters are available for shipboard deployment.

“The army is no better off. They have such a severe shortage of staff that they couldn’t cobble together a battalion for deployment overseas if they tried.

“This is an appalling state of affairs – not to mention internationally embarrassing.

“Labour has had years to get on top of this debacle and has made no noticeable improvements.

“Just last year an Australian study found that our Defence Force was stretched and that major units are not able to defend themselves. The study also found that equipment is in short supply; the army cannot meet its requirements, and that it is doubtful the army can now operate as a unified force.

“Phil Goff called the report ‘an A pass for the current state of the Defence Force’.

“National proposes a White Paper that will address these issues and make recruitment and retention of personnel a priority.

“Phil Goff needs to take the rose-tinted glasses off. If this is the ‘best-equipped’ our Defence Force has ever been, we are in deep trouble.”

ENDS

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