Greens to halve defence spending

The Green Party has announced at its annual conference that it will campaign to halve spending on defence from $1.6 billion to $800 million. “We see this cut as a ‘peace dividend’ providing much-needed money for social and environmental projects,” said Green Party Defence Spokesperson Keith Locke, speaking at the party’s annual conference in Wellington this weekend.

“The saving will come from disbanding the offensive capacity of the Defence Force.

“We’ll save $650 million by removing the frigates, their support ship Endeavour, and the air strike force.

“Another $70 million can be saved by disbanding the SAS and the expensive and irrelevant anti-submarine capacity in our air force and navy.

“A final $180 million could be saved in unifying the three services, eliminating duplication across the senior brass, and shifting the focus from big land operations to peacekeeping, civil defence, disaster relief and fisheries monitoring.

“Fisheries monitoring would require two new patrol boats, but even after covering their operating cost we could save $800 million of the approximately $1.6 billion current budget.

“There is no military security threat to New Zealand. But there is a biosecurity threat that the Government is not facing up to.

“The only Asian invaders we are likely to face are pests like the Japanese gypsy moth. Why not put some of the money saved from defence into stopping these insect invaders at our airports and on our wharves?” said Keith Locke.