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Defence Report Doesn't Go Far Enough, Say Greens

Changes to the armed forces advocated by the Defence Select Committee don't go far enough, the Green Party says.

The multi-party committee yesterday released a report detailing new priorities for the armed forces.

Green Party Defence spokesperson Keith Locke welcomed the committee's opposition to a third frigate and the purchase of F-16s.

"But they're having a bob each way when they say we must keep the existing frigates and maintain an air strike capacity," he said. "We simply don't need them for what the committee correctly says are our top priorities: protecting our economic zone, South Pacific responsibilities, peacekeeping and public service.

"We agree with the committee that New Zealand should be more 'multilateral' in its defence strategy, and be less dependent on Australia. But the answer is to not to hop into bed with Malaysia, Singapore or France, as the committee suggests.

"We need to focus on good relations with our Pacific neighbours, and all those countries who can work with us on peacekeeping.

"We don't need to keep up with the Asian 'Joneses' in combat capability, albeit, as the committee suggests, with a small focused force.

"We can dramatically reduce our defence spending by removing those parts of the armed forces geared to major combat against a non-existent enemy."

The committee encourages more operational unity between Army, Navy and Air Force to reduce overheads.

"Even bigger savings could be made by adopting the Green proposal to merge the three services. That would be easy once we got rid of the superfluous air and naval combat capacity," said Mr Locke.

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