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US Admiral Should Butt Out Of NZ Defence Debate

Green Party Defence spokesperson Keith Locke rejected a visiting US admiral's call for New Zealand to spend more on defence.

The United States Comander in Chief Pacific Command Admiral Dennis Blair is currently visiting New Zealand.

"Unless some of the US aid budget comes our way, the last thing we should be doing is wasting money on high tech war toys," said Mr Locke.

"With the government crying poverty over new health and education spending, we'd be mad to hike the defence budget.

"The Admiral seems to know more about boats than peacekeeping. It is laughable to think that high tech surveillance equipment is the way to go in East Timor. You need to have soldiers on the beat to distinguish between ordinary Timorese and militia. No machine will tell you.

"Admiral Blair is wants us to blow $550 million on a high-tech upgrade for the Orions. This project, called Sirius, has no relevance to peacekeeping in the Pacific, being mainly geared to help the US in anti-submarine warfare.

"The Admiral's high tech rhetoric is really about getting us to assist the Americans patrol the Pacific, rather than concentrating on what we are good at, on-the-ground peacekeeping.

"Admiral Blair should 'butt out' of our defence debate. We know what we need," said Mr Locke.

For further information today contact Keith Locke at 09-630-0789 or 025-528-353.

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