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New Zealand to spend $20 billion on Defence

Wellington, June 8, 2016

After months of delays, the government has finally unveiled its $20 billion, 15-year plan for the modernisation of New Zealand’s defence force.

The Defence White Paper, released by Prime Minister John Key and Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee today, signals a long-term investment in the armed forces, which includes replacing a number of ageing aircraft and frigates, buying an ice-strengthened offshore patrol vessel, and new cyber security capabilities to better protect defence force information networks.

Meeting challenges

Mr Brownlee says the spending plan, which looks to 2030 and beyond, will ensure the army, air force and navy have the necessary capabilities to meet New Zealand’s security and defence challenges.

“These challenges include having awareness of, and being able to respond to, activities in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone, supporting our interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, and protecting defence information networks against increasing cyber threats,” he said.

While the paper outlines the defence force assets that need replacing, including the Air Force’s Boeing 757, Hercules and Orion aircraft, there are no details about what they would be replaced with or how much it will cost.

However, the paper acknowledges that given the long term nature of investment decisions in military capability, and the costs associated with such decisions, defence will continue to face “affordability challenges.”

Greater spending

Mr Key said future budgets will have to take into account greater spending on defence to fund the replacement and upgrade programme.

Meanwhile, the paper says New Zealanders can remain confident that the country doesn’t face a direct military threat in the foreseeable future.

However, it says New Zealand’s ability to protect and advance its security interests is becoming “increasingly challenging”.

There is a significant focus in the paper on New Zealand’s role in the South Pacific, and its interest in ensuring regional stability, and in patrolling and protecting both the EEZ and Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

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