For those of you interested in the release next week of the government's Defence Policy Framework - below are some of Mark Burton's comments relating to the Framework as delivered in a speech to the RSA. If you would like the text of the full speech, we can email it to you.
Apparently, there is going to be a 'new' approach to defence ! But wait, he also says ..."we need a defence force that can respond quickly and effectively to situations that require our involvement. And, let me quite clear, we need, and will have, a defence force that is trained and equipped for combat. " Goodness, sounds like the old approach to us ...
" You are (probably) aware that as well as having responsibility for Veterans' Affairs, I am also the Minister of Defence. A new approach to defence was one of the key policies of the Labour Alliance Government when it was elected.
If you would like to send your thoughts on this to Mark Burton, Minister of Defence, you can contact him at tel (04) 471 9715, fax 495 8465; other people who may benefit from hearing your viewpoint are Helen Clark, Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9998, fax 473 3579; Jim Anderton, Deputy Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9011, fax 495 8441; The Cabinet (collectively), office - tel 471 9743, fax 472 6332 - (all numbers to be prefixed by 04 by those of you out of Wellington).
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee process provided opportunity for wide public involvement and debate on defence issues and priorities, as the Committee prepared its Defence Beyond 2000 Report. We have built on the committee's work and taken note of the wide input.
Next week we will be releasing the Government's Defence Policy Framework, setting out the key elements of our approach to defence, including our priorities and how we see the shape and role of the New Zealand Defence Force in the future.
I cannot pre-empt that release, but it is appropriate that I comment briefly on the future role for our Defence Force. Recent events in Fiji and the Solomon's serve to remind us that we are not a nation living in isolation. The activities of our Pacific neighbours have an enormous impact on how we perceive our security and the role that we have in assisting the security of our region.
We believe that our prime defence interest is to protect New Zealanders both here and abroad and to ensure our territorial sovereignty while meeting our shared commitments with Australia and fulfilling our obligations and responsibilities in the South Pacific.
In order to meet those priorities, we need a defence force that can respond quickly and effectively to situations that require our involvement. And, let me quite clear, we need, and will have, a defence force that is trained and equipped for combat.
As a priority, our greatest current needs are therefore to upgrade the Army's equipment, to ensure that there is effective air and naval transport and support capabilities, and to maintain an effective maritime surveillance capability.
Once the defence policy framework has been released, the Ministry of Defence will proceed with a number of capability reviews. These reviews will take place, over the next few months, within the context of the policy framework.
Together they will form the defence assessment that will set the priorities for capital expenditure for the future.
I would like to reiterate what the Prime Minister told you yesterday - that there will be major expenditure on re-equipping the armed forces in the coming years. "
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