23 Oct 2008

Labour pledges continued increase in defence force staff

6:56 pm on 23 October 2008

Labour has released its defence policy, which reiterates its intention to increase defence personnel by 12% and upgrade and replace some equipment.

Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says funding for future defence needs has already been determined and will reverse the funding cuts of the 1990s.

"It represents expenditure of around $8 billion above base-line levels over the period, and reverses the 24% cut in funding for defence in the 1990s and a 30% cut in personnel numbers," he said.

Mr Goff says the Defence Force is almost two-thirds of the way towards achieving the goal of recruiting 1,600 extra personnel.

He says by mid 2009 a new military remuneration system will be in place, which gives staff an average wage rise of more than 10%.

Phil Goff says Labour is re-elected it would would publish a new White Paper on Defence next year.

National's defence spokesperson Wayne Mapp says the policy glosses over and ignores serious problems.

Mr Mapp says Labour's belated recognition of the need for a White Paper is grudging at best.

He says Labour's policy doesn't address issues such as army units having just 39% of the staff they need, and land combat forces not being prepared for high threat situations.

He says the Defence Force's annual report this year revealed significant problems which he says Labour has not even acknowledged.