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Labour Gambles With The Navy

Labour’s planned experimentation with the Navy is a dangerous move away from New Zealand’s proven track record with frigates, says North Shore MP, Dr Wayne Mapp.

Dr Mapp says the crisis in East Timor has demonstrated that New Zealand needs at least three frigates to be able to effectively defend our own waters, while at the same time maintain security in our region.

“Even with three, there are substantial risks. At the present time, we have the HMNZS Te Kaha patrolling the Gulf as part of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq, and the HMNZS Canterbury keeping the peace in East Timor. That leaves us with the ageing HMNZS Waikato to protect our valuable Exclusive Economic Zone, and provide critical training and maintenance,” he says.

“A total of four frigates has proven to be the ideal number in satisfying our obligations to our allies, and ensuring the safety of New Zealand’s resources.”

Labour’s desire to replace our frigates with the Danish Standard Flex 3500, is a risky experiment, says Dr Mapp.

“The Danish Standard Flex 3500 will not even enter service with the Danish Navy till 2006. No doubt export models would not be available until 2008 at the earliest. The HMNZS Canterbury retires in 2004, which will leave a gaping hole in our naval capability. New Zealanders cannot be expected to ignore this vulnerability, while Labour sits on its hands and waits for an unproven ship.

“National’s commitment to a balanced force is the proven solution that will ensure our continued safety and that of our allies and neighbours. Let’s not let Labour fly by the seat of its pants, with a Defence policy that is based around cost cutting and risk taking.”

- ENDS -

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