Not fit to fight

The Government should be ashamed that five years into its term, the Defence Force annual report reveals the Armed Forces are “not fit to fight”.

Apart from effectively abolishing the air force, the long litany of shortages in almost every area is something they must take accountability for.

As a percentage of GDP New Zealand now spends less than 1%, only 0.8%.

And yes National did cut defence spending also, but that was well over a decade ago, and because NZ was faced with a huge $5 billion deficit. Now that we have a $6 billion surplus there is simply no excuse. From 1995 to 2000 expenditure stayed stable at 1.1%, and has reduced to 0.8% since.

To give some idea of how low 0.8% is, here’s a list of the entire OECD:

Turkey 5.3%
Greece 4.3%
United States 3.9%
Australia 2.8%
South Korea 2.7%
France 2.6%
United Kingdom 2.4%
Portugal 2.3%
Czech Republic 2.1%
Sweden 2.1%
Finland 2.0%
Italy 1.9%
Norway 1.9%
Slovakia 1.9%
Hungary 1.8%
Poland 1.7%
Denmark 1.6%
Netherlands 1.6%
Germany 1.5%
Belgium 1.3%
Spain 1.2%
Canada 1.1%
Japan 1.0%
Switzerland 1.0%
Ireland 0.9%
Luxembourg 0.9%
Mexico 0.9%
Austria 0.8%
New Zealand 0.8%
Iceland 0.0%

Yep the only country that spends less than New Zealand is Iceland. They don’t have armed forces – they just pay the US to protect them (seriously). Maybe we should just do the same.

Most infromed commentary I have seen is that we should be at around the 1.5% of GDP level. Now the difference between 0.8% and even 1.1% (where we were in 2000) may not seem much but it is a whopping $420 million a year which would make a huge difference to the safety and ability of our defence force personnel.

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