Braybrooke: National wrong again on defence
Despite Dr Wayne Mapp’s attempts to misrepresent Labour defence policy, there will be no downgrading of the Navy to a ‘coastguard’ under the next Labour Government, Labour defence spokesperson Geoff Braybrooke said today.
“It is the last desperate throw of the dice for this Government to make up fictional Labour policy to attack. They have done the same thing ad nauseum over industrial relations policy in recent weeks.
“When it comes to defence policy, they are using obscure back-benchers like Wayne Mapp and Annabel Young to make the extraordinary claims. The Minister of Defence doesn’t want to damage his own credibility by pretending he can’t understand simple policy statements.
“For the record: Labour does not think the ANZAC frigates, or other anti-submarine frigates are a suitable basis for our Navy or good value for money. We will not buy any more of them. Obviously having already paid for two we will make the best of them until such a time in the medium term future when we can sensibly replace them.
“We need a long-range ocean-going vessel that is more versatile and provides better value for money than the ANZAC frigates. These are the sorts of vessels Labour favours – not row-boats, as Wayne Mapp would have us believe.
“A potential vessel is the Danish Standard Flex 3500. It is actually larger than the ANZAC, has comparable range and speed, but instead of being a frigate of limited use it is a purpose-built multi-role ship. Yes, it can be a patrol vessel. But it can also be an emergency response vessel, troop support ship, transport vessel, off-shore command centre, hospital ship, floating embassy, or adopt a combat role if necessary.
“The Danish ship has extensive hangar and cargo space and roll-on, roll-off capability, making it a far more useful transport and logistic support ship. A vessel like this, which can be equipped to accommodate passengers, would be far more useful in East Timor than the ANZAC. If the ANZAC has to evacuate people they will quite literally have to sleep on hammocks slung across corridors. If it wanted to transport anything larger than a suitcase, it would have to be crane-loaded and lashed to a metre of spare deck space, if you can find one.
“I wonder if Annabel Young and Wayne Mapp actually know or care about these simple facts?
“Obviously the Danish vessel is also a combat-ready naval ship which can be equipped with similar defensive weapons to those used on the frigates. We could get all this for a mere fraction of the price of a frigate, and the only reason why the current Government refuses to consider the option is that they are blinkered by selective advice from vested interests in the navy and Australia.
“In any event, the recent hypocrisy from National as the born-again ‘defence party’ is difficult to take seriously considering they cut defence spending by around 30% since 1990,” Geoff Braybrooke said.
Contact: Geoff Braybrooke, 06 835 7680 (electorate office)