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The Mapp Report - A One Frigate Navy

A One Frigate Navy

Over the last few months I have been told by many people that one of the two frigates, Te Kaha, had effectively been placed in reserve, useful for only short patrols in the Hauraki Gulf.

Recent Parliamentary questions seem to show there is some truth in this. As a rule, our frigates spend 150 to 160 days per year at sea. This usually involves an extensive international operation into the North Pacific or the Gulf. In fact, Te Mana is about to be deployed to the Gulf as part of multilateral operations against terrorism.

Tied up at the wharf
However, over the last 18 months the Defence Force has been operating Te Kaha on a minimal basis. In 2007 it spent 79 days at sea; not even one day in four. This year it is expected to spend 97 days at sea. Its readiness is now 24 hours to sail, instead of the usual 12 hours. Many of the allocated crew are apparently undertaking shore courses. Several exercises this year have already been ‘affected’, that is largely not undertaken. What this adds up to is a one frigate Navy, with one in reserve.

Capability reduction
This reduction in capability further highlights the personnel problems in the Defence Force. The Army can no longer deploy a Battalion overseas on operations; the Navy has become a ‘one frigate Navy, with one in reserve’.

The defence doctrine of the government is based on ‘depth not breadth’. It has not been achieved. In fact the opposite is occurring; the Defence Force is losing depth. The Labour government has failed to achieve its goal.

People are the challenge
Building up personnel numbers is the most critical challenge facing the Defence Force This will be at the core of National’s Defence White Paper.

ROAD WOES CONTINUE

Many of us have endured the seemingly endless rebuild of Esmonde Road. The improvements to the corner of Lake and Esmonde Roads have taken many months and they are still not complete.

The City Council’s Project Engineer has told me that this project, which cost $1.8 million, will be completed at the end of Anzac Weekend, that is three weeks from now. The delays in completing this project, and the failure to keep residents and motorists informed of progress or lack of it, as well as the nightmare traffic conditions, have really taxed the patience of motorists and residents.

Napier Street to Hauraki Corner
The Council says that completion of Phase 2 of this project (rebuilding Lake Road from Napier Street corner to Hauraki Corner) won’t start until October 2009, so we are in for a rough ride over the next 18 months. The total cost of this phase is budgeted for $12.8 million. This figure includes $700,000 for the cycleway extensions, and $500,000 for the traffic management of local area side roads.

Two year project!
The Council still has to purchase the properties, so this could clearly delay the project further. The Council says the whole project will not be complete until December 2010, so the actual road works will take over a year.

The Council and Transit need a better plan. The Esmonde Road contract took long enough. Surely lessons have been learned which would enable this project to be done faster? Many people have commented to me that the Esmonde Motorway Interchange seemed to be done much more effectively than the Esmonde-Lake Road intersection. North Shore residents are looking for better performance in these contracts. 4 April 2008


EVENTS

PUBLIC MEETING – HEALTH CRISIS

Monday 21 April
7.30pm – 10.00pm

Guest Speaker – Hon Tony Ryall (National’s Health Spokesman)

North Harbour Netball Centre, Northcote Road

Call 486 0005 for more information.


SUPERBLUES LUNCH

Monday 5 May
12.30pm – 2.00pm

Guest Speaker – Dr Jackie Blue (National’s Women’s Affairs Spokeswoman)

Taitamariki Guide Hall, Auburn Street, Takapuna

ends

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