NZ’s Defence assets are out of action or over-burdened – so sorry, we can’t help in the Gulf

Defence  Minister    Ron  Mark  was in  ebullient form, telling  Parliament  this  week  how  much he had   achieved  in defence  since he took over the portfolio  from  National’s  Mark  Mitchell.  And it  does  look  an impressive list.

There’s $5.2bn worth of procurement running right now. P-8s—done. Hercules—getting done. Network-enabled army—done. Protected mobility—done. The King Airs, four of them, now flying at Ōhākea—done. New simulator for the NH90s—done”.

So,  when a   request   comes   for   New Zealand  to help in the protection  of vital shipping lanes in the Middle East, one might   think  the Defence  Minister   would   relish the  opportunity  to   deploy  elements  of  the   NZ   Defence   Force.

But  what  was    Mark’s  response  when  asked to  link  with  Australia  in its decision to commit a ship, a surveillance aircraft and defence personnel in the multilateral effort to keep the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman open and safe for ships to pass through?

He  turned the  request down  flat,   saying he can’t send a ship or a plane because these assets are out of action or overburdened.

National’s  Foreign Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee reckons this is simply not good enough. He believes  the NZDF Force can offer its partners a range of skills and assets in a multilateral effort such as this.

Just as oil and other goods destined for Australia moves through the Strait of Hormuz, so too does oil and goods destined for NZ.Australia has correctly identified this situation as a risk to its economy.  It is a risk to NZ’s economy too”.

Brownlee  points  to NZ’s proud history of operating in the Middle East to keep the peace.

“In particular we recently played a significant role on the sea and in the air as part of the blockade of Isil’s trade of illicit goods to fund terror. The clock is ticking on NZ’s response to this very serious threat to our economic wellbeing. The clock is ticking on NZ’s response to this very serious threat to our economic wellbeing”.

Brownlee   argues the minister and “his part-time government” need to do better.

So  Point of Order   wonders  if  Ron Mark   has been  over-ruled  by  less  belligerent  elements  in the coalition?




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