Greens defend independent NZ armed forces

New Zealand’s independent foreign policy would suffer if it entered into a joint military task force with Australia, the Green Party’s Defence spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

“The best approach is to ensure our units are interoperable and to work with Australia where we have shared aims such as in the peacekeeping mission in Timor Leste. This is the current situation; there is no good reason to change it,” said Mr Locke.

Yesterday, Prime Ministers Key and Rudd announced that the two countries will consider developing a joint military contingent.

“The Greens are worried that a joint force would hitch New Zealand to Australia’s more interventionist approach to world politics,” said Mr Locke.

“Australia has been much more willing to commit to unjust wars, like that in Iraq, at the bidding of the Untied States.

“Through its membership in ANZUS, Australia has also been accommodating of America’s nuclear policies.

“New Zealand’s bold anti-nuclear stance could be compromised if our armed forces become too closely intertwined with Australia’s.

“Currently, New Zealand has a better image in the Pacific than Australia. Our forces are seen as less brash and more understanding of Pacific ways. It would be a pity to lose this.

“We already work successfully with Australia. We don’t need to set up a joint task force, in which Australia would inevitably have the dominant role,” said Mr Locke.