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Half a team would see NZ in third division

Denying New Zealand of naval and air strike capacity would be like playing a game of rugby without a front row," Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Associate Minister of Defence, Don McKinnon said today.

The Minster's comments were in response to the report of the Foreign Affairs and defence Select Committee – Defence beyond 2000.

"The report suggests we scale down the role of our airforce and navy.

"The government has already acknowledged the Army as the highest priority for rebuilding and has approved $500 million for this.

"But ultimately, no one wants to prop up half a team. In terms of our capability to play a role in international security, neglecting our airforce and navy would see us relegated from the 2nd division into the third".

Mr McKinnon said that as a small and vulnerable player, it was important we continue to make a valid contribution to global security.

"The defence force proposed by the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee would leave NZ unable to meet our international responsibilities and force us to bludge on our neighbours.

"Fronting up with half a team is not an option."


ENDS

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