INDEPENDENT NEWS

Army-Only Policy Wrong For Maritime Nation

Published: Wed 23 Aug 2000 04:04 PM
Under the guise of re-equipping the Army, the Government is effectively stripping the rest of the armed forces of their capability and their options, Opposition Defence spokesperson Wayne Mapp said today.
"After today's defence announcement, the Air Force will be nothing more than a small airline with military uniforms and the Navy a rather uncompetitive freightline.
"An Army-only policy is fatal for defence force in a country surrounded by the world's largest ocean. It ignores the fact that we are a maritime nation with responsibilities ranging over thousands of miles. That is a job for ships and planes.
"No one doubts the need to re-equip the Army. In fact, Labour is simply implementing the Army re-equipment programme announced by National in December 1998.
"Labour has sold out to the Greens and their fellow travellers. We now have a defence policy based on isolationism and Cold War hysteria rather than contemporary reality and regional instability.
"The Government is disconnecting us from our friends and allies, and turning its back on the ANZAC relationship.
"Labour has a phobia that Project Sirius is all about Cold War sub-hunting, but that's not true. Sirius is about improving radar and processing ability. The technology would greatly enhance search and rescue and maritime surveillance.
"The Government is risking lives by having our prime search and rescue capability rely on 1960s and 1970s technology instead of using this opportunity to invest in 21st Century technology. The cost could be lives lost at sea," Dr Mapp said.
Ends

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