INDEPENDENT NEWS

Idealistic Approach To Defence Ignores The Facts

Published: Mon 7 May 2001 02:13 PM
ACT Defence Spokesman MP Owen Jennings today slammed Helen Clark’s soft approach to defence, calling on the Prime Minister to remember Neville Chamberlain's infamous ‘peace in our time’ statement which came when Britain was about to be plunged into a bloody war.
“The first victim of war is the truth. However, under Helen Clark, things are no different in peace-time. She has slaughtered facts and turned to spin-doctors and propaganda to advance her ideological arguments.
“For example, her list of submarine sightings was incomplete. She didn't tell us about the Indonesian submarines that shadowed our troops landing in East Timor. She didn't tell us about the French submarines sighted by fishers off the East Coast. She didn't tell us that our limited intelligence has advised her that Chinese and Indian nuclear-powered and armed submarines are likely to pass through the Tasman or around the East Coast en route to each others’ waters.
“New Zealand needs a defence capability to detect and deter submarines. We are a maritime nation heavily dependent on shipping and fishing. Submarines are the most lethal of all military hardware. That means we must upgrade the Orions.
“New Zealand is the only country in the Asia-Pacific down-sizing its forces. Our neighbours and friends privately consider we are irresponsible and unwilling to pull our weight.
“Few countries have a greater need than New Zealand for a viable sea and air defence, given the nature of our relative isolation.
“The single greatest cause of loss of life during wars in the last century was a lack of protection of ground troops. Even peace keeping troops must have high quality air and sea defence. They need sophisticated and co-ordinated surveillance and communication systems.
“Peace keeping is an extraordinarily dangerous business. New Zealand seems too comfortable sending our young men and women into conflict unsupported and reliant on other countries’ resources. That's simply not good enough.
“New Zealanders will see through Helen Clark’s spin tomorrow. Recent polls show a significant majority of the country want the government to pull it’s weight in defence. Helen Clark cannot continue to ignore that obligation, without facing the consequences,” Owen Jennings said.
Ends

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