INDEPENDENT NEWS

Warning Shot For Government In Aus Defence Review

Published: Wed 6 Dec 2000 05:05 PM
Warning Shot For Government In Australian Defence Review
The fundamental lesson from the Australian Defence Review is that we live in a maritime region and the Government's 'army only' approach simply ignores the reality of our circumstances, National's Defence spokesman Wayne Mapp said today.
"The fact that the review relegates New Zealand in the importance of the defence relationship demonstrates how Labour is effectively writing New Zealand out of the strategic debate in our region.
"Labour's failure to recognise that damage is being done to the ANZAC relationship shows its naivety in this area," Dr Mapp said.
The Australian Defence Review specifically notes that Australia 'would regret any decision by New Zealand not to maintain at least some capable air and naval combat capabilities. Such forces would allow a more significant contribution to be made to protecting our shared strategic interests, especially in view of the essentially maritime nature of our strategic environment'.
Dr Mapp said that only Australia and New Zealand have the capacity to lead in our region. That means working more closely together with a real sense of joint planning. This can only be done if New Zealand has defence forces with capabilities across the range. That means a proper Navy and proper Air Force able to contribute to regional security.
"A defence force built around the Army will not allow us to play our leadership role in the region.
"East Timor, the Solomons and Bougainville demonstrate the need for a defence force with a range of capabilities able to provide naval, air and land forces to meet the full range of contingencies.
"National is committed to New Zealand being able to play a full part in the region. Labour's policy will write us out of the region," Dr Mapp said.
Ends

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