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More Paint over the Rust for Defence

3 May 2005

More Paint over the Rust for Defence

Despite insistence to the contrary by Labour's spin machine, the pre-budget Defence funding announcement will do nothing to restore essential Defence capabilities, or retain professional staff, says Otago candidate for Democrats for Social Credit, Richard Prosser.

Mr Prosser, an Alexandra-based Defence commentator, says the 10-year funding package needs to be viewed from the same cynical perspective from which it is delivered.

"4.6 billion sounds like a lot of money until you break it down," Mr Prosser said. "But in reality, only around two hundred million of that is new capital, most of which will be spent on replenishing ammunition stocks for the Army. The bulk of the package is earmarked for pay for new recruits, and if the Defence force can't attract the people it needs, that money won't be spent at all."

Recruitment and retention of quality people would continue to fall across all branches of all three services, unless the Government restored both the Air Combat Force, and a full frigate complement for the Navy, said Mr Prosser.

"The sharp end is what gives the NZDF credibility as a viable career option, and without a strike force or a blue-water Navy we don't have that, nor do we have the ability to mount an effective Defence for New Zealand," Mr Prosser said. "This package does nothing to address the shortcomings in New Zealand's Defence capabilities, or to disguise Labour's peacenik agenda."

Mr Prosser said that New Zealand's security was threatened by the weakened state of the Armed Forces, and also said that about 10% of the funding package appeared to be intended for building maintenance and "improved management systems". "The Orion upgrade doesn't include an anti-submarine capability, the Hercules are dying of old age, and the Navy is being turned into a Coastguard. Until the Government realises that a majority of New Zealanders are not pacifists, and that people don't want to serve in a Peace Corps, the best personnel will continue to leave," he said. "Hiring more administrators, and repainting a few barracks, won't change any of that," Mr Prosser added.

ENDS

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