Green Party Defence Spokesperson Keith Locke welcomed today’s defence changes as a major step towards a more independent policy.
“This announcement is an historic change away from New Zealand’s traditional subordination to Australia and America in its defence strategies,” said Mr Locke.
“Rather than being geared to fight a major war alongside America and Australia, we’ll now be more appropriately equipped for peacekeeping, as in East Timor.
“We applaud the Government for the scrapping of the Skyhawks, which have never been used operationally in the 30 years we’ve had them.
“The government is right to concentrate on improving the workhorses of the Air Force – the Hercules and our helicopter fleet – which have proven their worth once again in East Timor,” he said.
“This is not an isolationist step. With a revamped army we will be able to work with a wider range of countries in international peacekeeping.
“We reject National’s charges that the Government is out of tune with public opinion in making these announcements.
“We believe the Government is catching up with public opinion, which has long been opposed to the purchase of new frigates,” he said.
“Although people like to see the Skyhawks at air shows, most people would agree that the $200 million spent on them annually could be better spent on more useful ships and planes.
“The $400 million annually spent on the frigates is also wasted money. While we support the decision to replace the Canterbury with a long-range multi-purpose ship and fisheries patrol boats, we would like the government to go even further and let go the two remaining ANZAC frigates.
“The resultant saving would more than cover the extra the government needs to re-equip the army,” said Mr Locke.