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A well equipped modern defence force for NZ

23 October 2008

A well equipped modern defence force for New Zealand

Defence Minister Phil Goff today released Labour's 2008 Defence Policy.

"The focus of Labour's Defence Policy is to ensure the New Zealand Defence Force has the modern equipment and the personnel to protect our interests and values, and to fulfil our obligation to be a good international citizen in areas such as peacekeeping and disaster relief. Integral to these tasks is that it is also combat ready," Phil Goff said.

"At this point in the 21st Century, New Zealand is not directly threatened by any other country and is not likely to be involved in widespread armed conflict. However, today non-conventional threats such as terrorism and instability caused by failing states in our region pose new challenges for our defence force.

"Other functions such as protection of our borders against drug and people smuggling, surveillance over and protection of resources such as fisheries in our exclusive economic zone, disaster relief, search and rescue and civil defence are further roles for our Defence Force.

"Funding for future defence needs has been provided already under 10 year planning programmes for capital expenditure (Long Term Development Plan, extending to 2012) and operational expenditure (Defence Sustainability Initiative through 2017).

"It represents expenditure of around $8 billion above base-line levels over the period, and reverses the 24 per cent cut in funding for Defence in the 1990s and a 30 per cent cut in personnel numbers," Phil Goff said.

"Labour will publish a new White Paper on Defence in 2009, coinciding with the mid-point review of the Defence Sustainability Initiative and the development of a new capital expenditure programme for the period from 2012 (when the current Long Term Development Plan ends).

"The White Paper will take account of the soon to be published Australian White Paper. It will update and build on the Labour-led Government's June 2000 Defence Policy Framework and the Government's May 2001 Defence Statement.

"On personnel numbers, we are committed to a 12 per cent rise in personnel numbers above levels in 2005. This represents an increase of around 1600 extra personnel and we are already two thirds of the way towards achieving that.

"By mid next year we will have fully brought in the new military remuneration system which gives personnel an average wage rise of over 10 per cent this financial year.

"In the area of equipment, over the next three years we will see huge advances, with two new helicopter fleets coming on stream together with rebuilt Hercules and upgraded Orions. The Protector fleet will be in service and major upgrading work will be done on our frigates. The army will have a digitally-based command and control system and a computerised Intelligence and Reconnaissance system, new night vision equipment and upgraded weapons and will be looking at replacing its Unimog vehicle fleet.

"This is a total turnaround from the downgraded and increasingly obsolete equipment which the Defence Force was forced to make do with by the late 1990s.

"In the area of overseas operations, Labour will continue to provide support for international peacekeeping and security operations mandated or supported by the United Nations, within our capacity to contribute as a small country," Phil Goff said.

"Military intervention by peacekeepers is frequently essential to stabilise a situation, as was the case for example in the Solomons and Timor Leste. In Bamyan our personnel has also played a crucial role in ensuring stability necessary for people to make progress in their lives.

"However we recognise that military intervention, while often a prerequisite to ensuring stability, is not by itself a guarantee that peace, prosperity and security will be achieved.

"Under Labour, we are already - and will increasingly emphasise that - addressing the causes of conflict or state failure must be addressed for a sustainable peace to be achieved.

"Our peace-keeping operations will involve a whole of government approach, working in partnership with others and the host government, to also achieve development and good governance. These are essential for our peace-keeping efforts to succeed, and to allow us an exit strategy for defence personnel by enabling us to realise our objectives," Phil Goff said.

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Labour's Defence Policy

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