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Christian Heritage Slams PM,s Defence Policy

23 November 2000

Chris Salt
Defence Spokesperson

Christian Heritage Slams Prime Minister’s Defence Policy

Prime Minister Helen Clark’s unimpressive reaction to American Admiral Blair’s criticism of the Government’s defence policy is a further disturbing indication that New Zealand’s real defence needs are poorly understood, says the Christian Heritage Party. Defence spokesperson, Mr Chris Salt says, “Helen Clark completely misunderstands defence policy. Her fixation with peacekeeping clearly shows that she is thinking in terms of third world aid and has forgotten that the priority must be the protection of New Zealand. Despite its laudable aims peacekeeping should fall out of that priority and not replace it,” says Mr Salt.

“The Christian Heritage Party believes a well-equipped army will be of little use in the event of an external threat to New Zealand. Such a threat would clearly require an effective airborne response against what must inevitably be a sea or airborne aggressor. Dismissing this argument because there is no apparent external threat to New Zealand is a dangerously short-sighted view. New Zealanders do not expect to have their homes destroyed and yet most take out insurance. Defence policy should be based on this same simple premise. Unfortunately, Helen Clark fails to see defence in these terms and therefore exposes our nation to unnecessary risk,” says Mr Salt.

Christian Heritage believes Admiral Blair is on the right track. A small nation should base its defence on advanced resource efficient technologies, including precision weapon and surveillance systems. One person in a high performance aircraft can do more for the defence of New Zealand, against a sea or airborne aggressor, than a whole brigade of infantry. Secondly, innovative approaches should be adopted to reduce defence overheads. Christian Heritage believes there is a range of unexplored options which could secure New Zealand’s true defence priorities and regional responsibilities, without significantly affecting peacekeeping commitments. “Unfortunately, Ms Clark’s obstinate refusal to conduct a full, public review of defence has severely constrained the government’s ability to formulate a responsible and cost effective defence policy,” Mr Salt said.

Contact: Mr Chris Salt on (04) 477 0640 or (025) 238 1258
Party Leader Graham Capill (021) 661 766

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