Government Committed To A Safe And Effective Defence Force

  • Max Bradford
Defence

The Minister of Defence today said that the Government has agreed to a substantial re-equipping of the armed forces while also taking into account the current economic situation.

Mr Bradford said the Government had made four decisions in keeping with last year's Defence White Paper The Shape of New Zealand's Defence.

"These decisions prove that we are committed to maintaining a credible defence force in order to pull our weight with our close friends and allies.

"The new equipment will also ensure that our service personnel can safely and effectively do their jobs."

Mr Bradford said that the Government's decisions announced today will not take $1 out of the defence re-equipment capital plan, announced last October, nor will $1 extra be added.

The decisions are:

A $500 million re-equipment programme for the Army which is already underway. The Army is the only service which will grow in numbers with the addition of two rifle companies, equipment and support personnel. Active personnel will grow by about 500 men and women. The Government will be accelerating modifications to the HMNZS Charles Upham to bring it up to the full capability of a military sea lift ship, which the Government believes, after modifications, will be the ship best suited to meet our military sea lift needs at a reasonable cost.

Replacing New Zealand's 19 ageing A4 Skyhawks with 28 more modern F-16 A/B Aircraft, for delivery in about 30 months. This lease arrangement with an option to buy will reduce the risks associated with 1950s designed aircraft and avoid a $54 million upgrade that would have been necessary if New Zealand had kept them until 2006/7. Final lease and supporting equipment negotiations have yet to be completed. The deal will save New Zealand $431 million over the life of the aircraft compared with purchasing new aircraft next century. The offer is for two five-year leases with an average annual lease cost of $12.5 million for the entire 28 aircraft, with the option to buy at the end of the lease period. The offer includes a support package and activation charges totalling up to about $200 million.

The Government will not be proceeding with the replacement of our last Leander class frigate with a third ANZAC frigate. Decisions will need to be made on how to replace the HMNZS Canterbury. Government has directed that all options as to how this can occur are to be explored so that decisions can be made prior to 2002.

Mr Bradford said the decisions had the support of National Caucus MPs and the MPs on whom the National-led Government depends on for support in the House.

"These decisions represent a significant step, particularly for the Army and Airforce," he said.

"Besides replacing 25-35 year old equipment which is effectively obsolete, the decisions mean we will significantly upgrade our capability to undertake more demanding operations both at home and overseas and keep our personnel safe," Mr Bradford said.

Media Inquiries: Ann Howarth, press secretary to Hon Max Bradford, (04) 4719-836 025 424 565

FACT SHEET

CHANGE IN NZ GOVERNMENT SPENDING SINCE 1987 (real dollars)
Sector Change

Education increased 71.5 per cent to $7 billion
Health increased 28.7 percent to $6 billion
Social Welfare increased 25.2 percent to $12 billion
Defence decreased 6.7 percent to $2 billion

ANNUAL DEFENCE SPENDING PER CAPITA (NZ$)
New Zealand $392
Japan $507
Australia $711
United Kingdom $953
United States $1588
Singapore $2122

(Figures sourced from Military Balance 1998/99: International Institute for Strategic Studies. They do not include capital charge and depreciation)