Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A gap in our defence policy

Last week, under cover of a major earthquake, the government announced it was spending $20 billion on new toys for the defence force. New frigates, new ASW aircraft for finding submarines (rather than lost fishermen), cyber-woo - all of it wasted money stolen from the mouths of the poor. And in the Herald today, Brian Rudman points out the obvious: that all of this spending mis aimed at the wrong target:

What is missing is a chapter, or even a page in either the White Paper or the shopping list, outlining plans for dealing with our most immediate and potentially deadly threat.

The vast majority of us were born after the deadly Napier earthquake. But three major shakes in the South Island in the last six years, have highlighted how the enemy we are most likely to have to front is the one within. "Bishop" Tamaki paints him as a scary homophobic Old Testament God. Science tells us we're at the mercy of tectonic plates rubbing against one another.

It's not an enemy we can fight. But it would be nice to think that some of the $20 billion Defence spend-up over the next 15 years, was being earmarked for disaster rescue, relief and reconstruction.

From NZDF's procurement plans, you'd think they were planning to refight the Battle of the Atlantic to protect Mother Britain, or a major tank battle on the North German plain against the forces of the (long dead) Soviet Union. Meanwhile, what actually threatens us is... earthquakes. They've shown how useful they can be in such situations (again, the Canterbury, basicly a Cook Strait ferry painted battleship grey, is our most useful defence asset). It would be nice if their future spending plans were focused on what they actually do and improving their capabilities towards actual threats.

Here's a suggestion: if the government is so concerned about the cost of 24/7 earthquake and tsunami warning, maybe they should take the money from the defence budget? Spending it that way would be far more effective in protecting our lives than buying toys for fantasy wars we will (and should) never fight.