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Labour ignores own failings in defence

Wayne Mapp MP
National Party Defence Spokesman

23 October 2008

Labour ignores own failings in defence

Labour's defence policy released today glosses over and ignores serious problems, says National's Defence spokesman, Wayne Mapp.

"The New Zealand Defence Force's own annual report this year revealed significant problems which Labour simply has not even acknowledged."

They include:

* The MRV Canterbury faces huge questions about equipment and capability. It is unable to perform some operations.

* The Navy's six new patrol boats, (four in-shore and two off-shore patrol boats) still can't pass their Lloyds survey and are therefore unable to be delivered.

* The Air Force's two 757s have been out of circulation since last November.

* Only two of the Navy's five helicopters are fully in service.

* Army units are staffed as low as 39%.

* Land combat forces are partially prepared for low-level conflicts only and the Army is not prepared for higher threat situations.

* The Army cannot provide logistic and medical support or a sustainable Engineer Squadron, a Signals Squadron or a Military Police Platoon to support an Infantry Battalion.

* There are insufficient personnel to sustain the Maritime Patrol Fleet on continuous operations.

"The NZDF annual report makes for very grim reading indeed.

"In addition, Labour's policy fails to address serious shortcomings in the use of taxpayers' money. The helicopter replacement programme, which was originally forecast to cost between $400 and $560 million, has blown out to $910 million.

"The Auditor General had to abandon an audit of major procurement projects under Labour because the projects were so poorly managed that Kevin Brady couldn't even find enough information to conduct an audit on.

"Labour's belated recognition of the need for a Defence White Paper is grudging at best. Just two weeks ago, following National's call for a White Paper, the Minister claimed that, "to have a White Paper is really just a thinly disguised admission of having no policy at all.

"Besides the much needed focus on recruitment and retention, Labour's policy fails to address the major issues facing our Defence Forces. The Minister's words best describe his own failed policy."

ENDS

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