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National out of step on defence - Braybrooke


National has isolated itself as the only major political party out of step with the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee's report on the future of New Zealand's defence, says Labour defence spokesperson Geoff Braybrooke.

Mr Braybrooke was commenting on the select committee's report, tabled in Parliament today, on its inquiry into New Zealand's defence requirements beyond 2000. National MPs on the committee presented a minority report rejecting many of the majority conclusions, reportedly at the insistence of Defence Minister Max Bradford.

"The report maps out new priorities for our defence forces and offers the basis for a cross-party consensus on defence policy. It's just a pity National hasn't got the strategic vision to see that."

"The emphasis on strengthening our land forces and broadening their training for peacekeeping duties is plain good sense, and was strongly endorsed by the vast majority of the experts the Committee heard from in formulating the report. In stark contrast, the Government's unfortunate decision to lease second-hand F16 fighters when previously they insisted that the Skyhawks would be adequate until 2005, looked very poorly justified.

"The evidence heard by the Committee also left the arguments for buying more ANZAC frigates looking shaky. On the frigates question, Labour therefore reserves its position."

"Labour is committed to rebuilding our defence force in a form fit for the next century and the report points in the right directions. It's well past time for political consensus on defence strategy, but if National can't see where it's going it should get out of the way," Geoff Braybrooke says.

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