INDEPENDENT NEWS

Orions: $400m To Save Billions Seems A Good Idea

Published: Mon 21 Aug 2000 05:03 PM
Usually reliable sources have told ACT that the Cabinet has already made a decision to scrap the proposed Orion upgrade, said ACT Leader, Hon Richard Prebble.
“This decision will have serious long term implications for New Zealand’s international standing.
“It has been understood for the last forty years that New Zealand has responsibilities for surveillance over the South Pacific, and to help smaller Pacific Island nations have effective cover over their fishing zones.
“The current Orion radar system is obsolete and our allies are offering us state of the art equipment to replace it. The coalition Government’s refusal to upgrade the Orions will be interpreted as a statement that our Government is not prepared to fulfil our contribution to the Western Alliance.
“The decision also raises the question over whether the Government is serious about making a case to the United Nations to extend our exclusive economic zone.
“New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone is the fourth largest in the world, and the Crown is preparing a case to extend the zone by 200kms
“If the case is accepted by the United Nations, New Zealand's economic zone will cover one per cent of the earth's surface. Our claim is without doubt strengthened if we are able to show we are exercising ownership such as having regular Orion surveillance flights.
“The New Zealand Government is now collecting over $100 million from royalties and energy levies relating to the seabed resources within the exclusive economic zone. Fishing quota and other revenues are worth $500 million. The overall value of fish exports are expected to exceed $1.4 billion this year.
“Put in that context the $400 million upgrade for the Orions appears to be a sensible investment,” said Hon Richard Prebble.
ENDS

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