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The Mapp Report: Defence Force Under Stress

The Mapp Report 5 September 2008


DEFENCE FORCE UNDER STRESS

This week the New Zealand Defence Force issued its 2008 Annual Report. This is a report prepared by the Defence Force itself, on how well it has met the objectives set by government. Of course, the objectives are set by government in conjunction with the Defence Force.

There is absolutely no doubt the Defence Force is under stress, partly due to the tempo of operations, partly due to challenges of recruiting and retention, and partly due to badly managed procurement programmes. Most of these programmes are well over the initial budget, and have been delayed. It means the Defence Force does not have the equipment to do their job.

Struggling to go to sea
For instance the Navy still does not have the first of its patrol vessels, even though they were to be delivered over a year ago. In the meantime the Navy is struggling to put its ships to sea. The Endeavour should have been at sea for 120 days; in fact it was only 50. Similarly, Te Kaha was to be at sea for 160 days but could only manage 99, and this is one of two frigates!

Could we do another East Timor?
The Army can no longer deploy a battalion on operations. This is extremely serious. It is not a theoretical requirement. In 1999 the Army had to deploy a Battalion group (around 1,000 people) to East Timor and had to maintain it there for three years (reduced manning in later rotations). This peacekeeping contingency could be required at any time in the current situation in our region. Yet the Regular Army is the same size today as it was a decade ago. So something has gone seriously wrong.

Skilled people required
The Air Force is well down on skilled people – for example, there are fewer than 50% of the required number of experienced maintenance sergeants for the Orions.

The Air Force did get pretty close to their required hours flying. They are due to get new and upgraded equipment. However, the Air Force says

the workhorse C130 Hercules, even after major upgrading, will be at risk around engines, propellers and other systems. These aircraft are already over 40 years old, and may not reach their out of service date of 2017.

A White Paper
National has promised a White Paper on defence. New Zealand has not had a White Paper since 1997. Since then, we have experienced September 11, and the greater demands on defence. It is time to ask the serious questions on how defence can meet the nation’s goals.

There is a fair measure of bipartisanship on what these goals are. So the challenge is actually meeting them. After nine years of a Labour Government, the Defence Force is telling New Zealand they are having real difficulty. That is why we have to ask the hard questions, and think more imaginatively how to meet these goals.

NATIONAL’S IMMIGRATION INNOVATIONS

Building skills
Growing our nation and our confidence is the critical challenge facing this country.

Silver fern visa
National’s immigration policy focuses on skills. One of the most innovative parts of the policy is the Silver Fern visa. This will be a huge incentive for international students coming to New Zealand to study. An international student graduating from a New Zealand university or polytechnic with a three year qualification will be able to stay to get a job, which will lead directly to permanent residency.

The graduates will be ideal immigrants. They will have studied in New Zealand, and will have learned about the New Zealand way of life. They will have energy and enthusiasm. Surely these are the perfect attributes for new immigrants? The Silver Fern visa will be a key advantage for New Zealand tertiary institutions in attracting international students.

Retirement visa
In North Shore I see a lot of talented people aged 55 to 70 who would like to live in New Zealand. They are well off, and would like to spend more than six months here at a time. They often have children who live in New Zealand, but also family living elsewhere, which means family unification does not apply. They have health insurance, and they will spend their money here.


National’s proposal for a retirement visa will receive a lot of support. In most cases, they will live partly in New Zealand and partly overseas. This new visa category will make New Zealand an attractive destination in a way that meets the contemporary way of life.

OUT AND ABOUT

Last night I participated in an Education Forum with three other parliamentary candidates, organised by NZEI at Te Tai Tamariki. There were nearly 100 North Shore teachers at the meeting.

It was a very good forum. NZEI goes to a lot of trouble to ensure their members are well informed. National has made it very clear that:

• We will maintain existing funding for the next three years as has been agreed in the 2008 Budget
• We will ensure that every child is properly assessed for literacy and numeracy skills, using existing best practice
• We will reduce the excessive bureaucracy imposed on schools and teachers by the Ministry of Education, so that they can get on with educating young New Zealanders.

The teachers present at the meeting will have received a full flavour of National’s approach to education; and many of their concerns were able to be properly met.


5 September 2008

EVENTS

PUBLIC MEETING

Guest speaker - Gerry Brownlee

7.30pm, Monday 29 September

AMI Netball Centre, Northcote Road (next to the motorway exit)

ALL WELCOME


ENDS

Dr Wayne Mapp

For more information on National visit www.national.org.nz or have a say at www.johnkey.co.nz

Visit my website for more information at: www.waynemapp.co.nz
The Mapp Report is published weekly. Please feel free to pass on to anyone interested.


ENDS

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