Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


The Defence Debate: Facing the Future Confidently


The Defence Debate: Facing the Future with confidence

The recent public debate over defence issues is timely and important. There are very real challenges ahead in the short to medium term and there is an overriding need to meet these with a defence strategy that recognises the present and future needs of New Zealand’s armed forces consistent with the objectives of our defence programme.

Murray Callister, United New Zealand spokesperson on defence and the party’s candidate for Northcote in last year’s General Election, has taken a particular interest in the F-16 issue and its relationship to wider defence issues.
The debate itself has been most poignantly highlighted with the discussion over recent months about New Zealand’s commitment to the F16s. Strong arguments both for and against going ahead with the purchase of the aircraft have been put forward by the respective proponents.

Perhaps the first and most relevant question is whether we need the F16s in the first place. Our need for these aircraft should be determined according to such factors as cost, comparable deals available on other aircraft, defence strategies and the relative needs of the other two sections of the armed forces – the navy and army.

United New Zealand recognises there is a need and role for well equipped and modern defence forces to meet our strategic and operational needs and international obligations. Equally we must balance this need with New Zealand’s fiscal limitations and relatively small size.

THE F-16 DEAL
It would certainly appear that the financial arrangement to buy the F-16s is a good one. Most defence analysts agree the deal to lease 28 F-16s is a strong and robust one, which when examined alone, is perhaps too good to renege on. The F-16s provide a modern capability, as opposed to the ageing Skyhawks. The presence of these combat aircraft will ensure the RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Air Force) has an equality in terms of speed and strike capacity, relative of course to our size.

STRIKE CAPACITY VERSUS PEACEKEEPING/TRANSPORTATION FUNCTION
The issue of what specific function we want to see the RNZAF carrying out should determine if the F-16 deal goes ahead.

If we are seeking a strike capacity with our Air Force then given the favourable conditions of the F-16 deal the balance probably favours their purchase.

On the other hand if we are looking towards a greater emphasis on a peacekeeping and transportation capacity only, then the deal needs closer scrutiny.

United contends that there needs to be a broad cross-party agreement on defence capital requirements to ensure the defence forces can plan and operate with certainty. United leader, Hon Peter Dunne in calling for a defence summit in January, spoke of its advantages. He said:
“It is high time that a multi-party defence summit is established to determine all future defence capital expenditure requirements. The summit should aim to develop a multi-party accord, which would ultimately provide more certainty for the defence forces, by ensuring capital requirements are consistent with the military and personnel objectives of the forces and the government’s defence priorities.”

There has been for too long an emphasis on ad-hoc decision making rather than strategic planning for defence and capital equipment funding. This has proven to be costly for the defence forces in terms of equipment and planning requirements.

WHAT THE SUMMIT COULD ACHIEVE?
As well as providing more certainty for the defence forces the summit would provide the means to shape an agreed role for our forces in the future. That simply means that if there is agreement on continuing New Zealand’s peacekeeping role with an air force strike capacity then equipment and funding decisions to meet these objectives is agreed upon.

Providing the summit recognises that government policy can change over time at least purchasing and capital requirements could be met in a climate of certainty.


SUMMARY
The F-16 debate is one that will not go away even after a decision on their future has been made.

United’s approach is to ensure that there is indeed a debate and that the debate takes place in the wider context of New Zealand’s medium-term defence objectives and needs.
]
If the purchase of F-16s is perceived as representing a good financial package and meeting the capital, personnel, operational and strategic requirements of the armed forces then there is a strong argument for it proceeding.

If the reverse applies and the funds set aside for the F-16s can be better used in other areas within the defence force, then the deal should be set aside.

An All Party Defence Summit would go a considerable way towards achieving this outcome.

END


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news