Defence budget overly weighted with Skyhawks and frigates

Green Party Defence Spokesperson Keith Locke today expressed disappointment at the $671 million dollars in today’s budget for Skyhawks and frigates.

“Given the Government is giving low priority to air and naval combat forces it is absurd that almost half the defence budget is going in this direction,” said Mr Locke.

“The Government has got to look seriously at cutting its losses in this area.

“We are alarmed that Defence Minister Mark Burton has announced that `a significant boost in the spending on capital projects will begin appearing in the 2001-2002 budget’.

“There is no way he should promise extra capital spending, without looking at where extra budget savings can be made.

“Selling off the Skyhawks and thereby saving the $233 million budgeted for air combat forces would be a good place to start.

“The budget also carries the legacy of the last government’s spending on the ANZAC frigates. $123 million is devoted to capital payments for Te Kaha and Te Mana and their associated equipment.

“The events in East Timor, Bougainville, Fiji and the Solomons have shown how little use frigates and Skyhawks really are.

“What we have required is peacekeepers, peace monitors, and an air and sea transport capability.

“We welcome the defence spending in these areas,” said Mr Locke.