Defence review harks back to ANZUS

The Defence Review released today is a missed opportunity to formulate an independent defence policy, Green Party defence spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

“Instead the Defence Review stresses the benefits of New Zealand being a ‘stalwart partner of the United States.’ It also stresses the need for New Zealand to lock itself into defence relationships with Australia as ‘our principal defence and security partner.’

“It’s disappointing the review doesn’t project further moves towards independence following our departure from ANZUS and the scrapping of our air combat force,” said Mr Locke.

“Our current commitment of special forces to Afghanistan underlines this lack of independence.

“The Review ties us to Australian defence policy, advocating an ANZAC Ready Response Force which, would be dominated by Australia.”

“The Review fails to take the next logical step, to phase out the two remaining frigates, which is more compatible with our past approach than what we need for the future.

“Given the financial constraints facing the Defence Forces, the decision needs to be made to dispose of two frigates that cost us around $400 million year,” said Mr Locke

“Phasing out our naval combat force would enable us to be seen as a non-partisan player in the Asia-Pacific region.

“This would be a good message to send in the wake of the East Asia Summit, which anticipated co-operation not conflict between nations in our region.

“We don’t need to be an ‘ally’ to continue co-operating with both Australia and the United Sates, in such things as peacekeeping and resource protection in the South Pacific,” Mr Locke said.

“As a nation we should be concentrating our resources on where we can make the most positive contribution, namely in peacekeeping, maritime surveillance, and disaster relief.”