• Max Bradford

Labour leader Helen Clark's claim that the Prime Minister's visiting of troops in Darwin is "an expensive photo-opportunity" is yet another shameful display of how little Labour values our Defence Forces, Defence Minister Max Bradford says.

"It was important the troops felt supported by the people of New Zealand and it would have been remiss for the Prime Minister to have been in the region and not paid attention to them.

"Helen Clark hates anything to with the military, particularly when there's no soft option and combat skills may be required," Mr Bradford said.

"She has spent most of her political life arguing against the need for a Defence Force, yet she and the Alliance were the first to call for New Zealand to mount the beaches of East Timor and face Indonesian troops.

"Helen Clark and the Alliance opposed the Government's 1997 Defence Assessment which argued for a substantial upgrading of our Army, Navy and Air Force.

"Yet when things go wrong, they are the first to call for our troops to defend the cause of democracy.

"Helen Clark's hypocrisy over re-equipping our Defence Force is despicable.

"For her to now criticise the Prime Minister for seeing our troops in Darwin is just another display of her hypocrisy and flip-flop attitude to our Defence Forces," Mr Bradford said.