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Defence Inquiry Report
1 September 1999
The release of the final report 'Defence beyond 2000' from the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Inquiry on Monday has provoked some interesting responses ...
The government has rejected the findings of the inquiry; the Alliance has welcomed the report (see *1 below); the Greens have said it doesn't go far enough (see *2 below); Labour has said they will abandon the lease-to-buy deal on F16s and ANZAC class frigates and focus on re-equipping the army. Max Bradford (Minister of Defence) commenting on the Labour statements said ..."the Australians will go ape ... the US would just give up on us". Interesting concept - we should spend billions on the armed forces to keep Australia and the US happy ?
And the Australian response ? The Australian Defence Minister is quoted (in 'The Dominion', today) as saying ..."We continue to encourage NZ to take up the option of acquiring additional ANZAC frigates and have supported decisions to upgrade army equipment and to acquire F16 fighters." The Australian government supports the NZ government rejection of the report.
More detail in the next PMA Newsletter which will be with you soon ....
* 1) ALLIANCE WELCOMES THE DEFENCE BEYOND 2000 REPORT
Alliance Defence spokesperson Matt Robson has welcomed the release today of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee's report of its inquiry Into New Zealand's future defence needs.
"I have been pleased to have participated in the work of the select committee over the past two years which has produced the Inquiry Into Defence Beyond 2000 ", said Matt Robson.
"At last the Parliament and public have a well researched and wide ranging report on this country's future defence needs. The committee invited and received numerous submissions from interested individuals and organisations as part of its work.
"This process is in marked contrast with the last government white paper on defence, which was produced out of time, was out of date and was an in house production of the defence establishment.
"The committee majority report reflects many of the Alliance's defence priorities. The focus of the needs of the army contained in the report is a key priority.
"This country's future defence needs are clearly focused around two well equipped battalions with air transport and appropriate helicopter and other support forces (including a logistic support vessel).
"We certainly don't need to follow through on the purchase of 28 second hand F-16 aircraft to replace the 19 A4 Skyhawks.
"The Alliance in government will move to cancel this decision. I understand that is also the view of the Labour Party.
"Likewise we don't need to purchase more ANZAC frigates, either new or second hand. What we do need is military sealift and logistic support capacity more suited to the South Pacific region than a revamped Charles Upham would be.
"The failure of the National Government defence policies can be seen today where we have no sealift and logistic support capacity to deliver and sustain our troops in East Timor, should the United Nations call on us to contribute to a post referendum peace keeping force.
"The Alliance differed with the majority report over closer defence relations with French forces in the Pacific. Let's remember France is the last European colonial power still occupying territories in the region.
"Likewise closer defence relations with Malaysia and Singapore are not appropriate. Such relations recall an imperial age long since gone, " said Matt Robson.
Aug 31, 1999
*2) 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.
Keith Locke: 09 630 0789 (h); 09 377 1367 (w)
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