Defence Select Committee Report

  • Marie Hasler
Cultural Affairs

National members share the committee's objective of giving a priority to upgrading army equipment and conditions. That has always been the top priority of the Government as approved in the Defence Assessment. Work is actually underway on replacement of APCs, landrovers, radios etc.

New Zealand is a remote, small sovereign country completely surrounded by large oceans and with a highly valuable economic zone of water to protect. A naval presence capable of operating in our often rough oceanic exclusive economic zone is absolutely essential to New Zealand's security interest. No security arrangements can ignore that fact.

Upgrading army equipment is not an issue. Everyone is agreed on that point and new equipment is already under discussion. Ms Clark's comments are behind the times. Peacekeeping obligations are, however, secondary to New Zealand's prime security needs.

Helen Clark as usual is both irrelevant in her comments and ducks making either the hard or right decision. It's better for New Zealand she continues to hide behind a cloud of minor issues.

Appropriate blue water craft are essential in New Zealand's whole security strategy. The frigate cannot be treated as an isolated, freestanding piece of capital equipment when it is a vital part of an overall complex strategic arrangement and it is irresponsible to treat it that way.

Upgrading army equipment is not an issue. Everyone is agreed on that fact and new equipment is already under consideration.

However, peacekeeping operations are a secondary matter and Helen Clark, as usual, has directed her attention to an irrelevancy.

Our prime security consideration is New Zealand itself. We are small, remote and surrounded by extensive oceans with a highly valuable economic zone to protect.

The state of our navy has to be the prime consideration whether Mr Prebble and Ms Clark like it or not. She will want to avoid making hard decisions about the navy, and let her continue in the fantasy land she lives in, but it is utterly irresponsible of her to sabotage our deep-water, oceanic strategy.

It is not a matter of New Zealand being attacked, and no one I know has ever said it was. That is a red herring. It is an issue of protecting our economic resources, assisting our allies to maintain regional stability, guarding against illegal exploitation of fishing, international terrorism, natural disasters, rescue operations and other issues where a blue-water physical presence is absolutely vital.

International treaties and agreements are completely worthless without the ability to enforce them.