If there is one area of policy that is the first priority of government, it would have to be defence. This is because it doesn’t matter what else you do in the country, if someone can sail up and take over, reversing all your good work, it was all in vain. Defence is the insurance that allows you to do everything else.
This NZPA story is very concerning:
The navy is finding it difficult to sail, the airforce to fly and the army would struggle to take part in combat, the 2007/2008 Defence Force annual report revealed today.
In the report, the army said while land forces were “partially” prepared for low level conflicts, the army was not equipped to meet higher threat situations
Read the whole story. Basically there seem to be serious problems with poor equipment in all three branches. And there is a lack of firepower in the equipment that exists. On top of this the military is finding it difficult to retain staff – possibly because they get sick of working with run-down equipment.
At the end of the day, our defence force is incapable of defending us. We have no combat aircraft, a few boats armed with peashooters, a few helicopters, and a lightly-armed army. Although the total number of staff is at its highest in seven years there are still insufficient staff to operate our ships, planes and helicopters.
Although Labour will boast of having put more money into defence while they have been in power, it is hard to see where the money has gone. The military is costing more but we don’t even have an air combat wing any more. Maybe the extra defence funding has been sucked up by rising fuel costs and increasing wages.
National won’t improve this situation. They feel they have reached an “enduring consensus” on defence policy with Labour, and are quite happy with the status quo.
We need to actually invest in defence. Current policy seems to be based on the presumption that we live in a “benign strategic environment”. All this means is that it has been so long since the last war that threatened NZ that we are probably due for another, but people are forgetting the last one and the importance of defence.
The Family Party is committed to adequately funding our defence forces, at a level (relative to GDP) comparable to that of our allies and similar countries to ourselves. We must have strong relationships with like-minded countries, especially Australia, the USA and the UK, and a defence force that is capable of pulling our weight in these relationships.
We will rebirth the Maori battalions, boosting our defence forces while providing a career path for young Maori and Pacific men who have underachieved in school. We are also willing to tackle the hard issues, and will be open to debate on dropping the ban on nuclear ships if this would assist in our relationships with other countries, but would require a public mandate by way of a referendum to do so, as this is a very divisive issue.
We need to be able to defend our country from attack, especially as the world is likely to become a more violent place in future as oil and other resources become scarcer. New Zealand has excellent agricultural land that would be ideal for an overpopulated country seeking security of food supply. We also have large reserves of coal and gas, also gold, and possibly oil and uranium. We are a valuable prize sitting almost completely unarmed in the middle of nowhere, as this video humorously, but very accurately, shows.
War has happened in the past. It will happen in the future. We must be prepared.
“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”
And in the meantime we can only be grateful that at least whenever we sing the National Anthem we are asking God to defend us, as we sure can’t!