Government Response to Foreign Affairs, Defence, Trade Committee Inquiry into Defence Beyond 2000

  • Max Bradford

The Government response to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee's Defence Beyond 2000 report details how the select committee's narrow strategic view would leave New Zealand unable to meet our international responsibilities, Defence Minister Max Bradford says.

"The Government's response, which has been tabled in Parliament, highlights the majority report's excessive emphasis on land forces and downplaying of the need for a blue-water Navy and air strike capability.

"Security within the Asia-Pacific region is of prime importance to New Zealand. We are a maritime nation surrounded by vast distances that can only be protected by a strong and well-equipped Navy and Air Force.

"Opposition committee members ignore the fact that no matter how well equipped the Army may be, there will be occasions when it is simply not the right option," Mr Bradford said.

Mr Bradford said New Zealand's contribution to the international UN-sanctioned peacekeeping operation in East Timor was a powerful reminder of the shared responsibility of all politicians to provide the Defence Force with the resources needed to successfully carry out tasks it might be asked to do.

"The impact on Australia, our Pacific neighbours, members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements including Singapore and Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States, are central considerations in defining our defence position.

"A limited ‘niche' force proposed in the Defence Beyond 2000 report would not allow us to meet wider commitments to neighbours and obligations to regional and global partners.

"In addition, the approach to joint operations described in the Defence Beyond 2000 report is based on a complete misunderstanding of joint operations.
"There is insufficient recognition of the important role of single services in training their individual forces as the basic building blocks of military capability.

"An affordable, balanced force structure enables New Zealand to deliver a realistic response to threats to our interests and those of our regional frends and partners," Mr Bradford said.