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Labour - a sensible defence policy


Labour
2000 web siteLabour's defence policy will focus on restoring a sensible balance of priorities, Labour defence spokesperson Geoff Braybrooke said.

"It is wrong to spend the lion's share of our defence budget on show-piece items like F-16s while the army is being sent into war zones like Bosnia and East Timor with obsolete equipment.

"Years of poor prioritisation have put our troops in unnecessary danger while on active service. They haven't been given the proper equipment to do the job. Radios and armoured personnel carriers which first saw action in the Vietnam War are a disgrace.

"The troop carrier capability has had such low priority under National that the botched purchase, HMNZS Charles Upham, is carrying oranges and lemons in the Mediterranean.

"As a result New Zealand had to lease a Dutch Freighter to transport equipment to East Timor, and wait two weeks for it to arrive. Consequently our first troops on the ground in East Timor were without their armoured transport. The situation National's mismanagement has left our forces in would be laughable if lives were not at risk.

Mr Braybrooke also confirmed Labour's opposition to the lease or purchase of F-16 jets, and its intention to examine closely the contracts and if possible cancel them, and reiterated Labour's refusal to purchase further ANZAC frigates.

"Labour will instead look at less expensive, multi-role naval ships such as the Danish Standard Flex 3500. We're not interested in expensive, floating weapons platforms - we'd prefer ships that can fill practical roles supporting land operations, transporting troops and equipment, helping out in disaster relief, as well as defending themselves."

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