INDEPENDENT NEWS

Labour Defence Policy Immoral, Aus. Supports Govt.

Published: Wed 1 Sep 1999 11:35 AM
The Australian Government’s reaction to Opposition party plans to walk away from regional defence commitments, underlines the damage Opposition policies would have on our international relationships, Defence Minister Max Bradford and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Don McKinnon said today.
The Australian Government has backed the New Zealand Government’s current defence policy.
Australia defence experts have warned that New Zealand could shut itself out of regional security co-operation if it accepted the recommendations of the Quigley report and policies of Labour leader Helen Clark.
Ms Clark said yesterday Labour would not continue with a frigate-based navy and might cancel the leasing of 28 F-16 aircraft.
Mr Bradford said today he would discuss the implications of Labour’s defence policy and the isolationist Quigley report with Australian Defence Minister John Moore in the next few days.
“I said the Australians would be critical of Labour and the committee’s stance and that is exactly what has happened.
“It is a matter of very serious national concern that the Labour Party’s plan for our Defence Force would threaten every aspect of our relationship with Australia, our largest trading partner.
“By ditching New Zealand’s blue water Navy, Labour would destroy our defence credibility and ability to defend our waters.
“It is an immoral position. Not even neutral countries like Switzerland and Sweden strip themselves of their basic fighting capability,” Mr Bradford said.
Mr McKinnon said that as a small and vulnerable global player it was vital New Zealand continued to make a valid contribution to regional security .…..
“The defence force proposed by the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select committee would leave New Zealand unable to meet our international responsibilities and force us to bludge off our neighbours.
“This has serious repercussions.
“Our friends and neighbours expect us to be able to front up with a decent team on the day.
“Running down our airforce and navy capability would be the equivalent of playing without a front row.
“Reducing our level of commitment would surely see others questioning the level of participation and commitment New Zealand is prepared to make and leave us in a vulnerable position in terms of our international relations”.
ENDS

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