Today, the government has revealed $104 million for new armoured vehicles to replace ones that were just purchased in 2004 under the last Labour government.
Does the NZDF need armoured vehicles?
No. The Labour/Green/NZ First weapons funding is cloaked in the rhetoric of humanitarian aid and climate change, making it more palatable to the NZ public but no less bullshit than the National party’s refrain of “supporting our traditional allies.” Instead, these new armoured vehicles are for combat situations in far-flung wars when our “friends” requests it, and very worryingly, also for assisting police domestically (think #BlackLivesMatter, think militarised police).
Wait. Didn’t they just get some other new weapons?
Yep. They sure did. It started with the upgrade of the weapons systems on the navy’s frigates. That blew out by over $200 million dollars – that’s right – that was the cost overrun, not the full cost which now nears three-quarters of a billion dollars, all of it going to nuclear weapons giant Lockheed Martin. Oh, and Lockheed also scored the massive contract for another cool $1.5 billion of our tax dollars for the new C130 troop transport planes. This is on top of the $2.4 billion going to Boeing for some new P8 spy planes.
The NZDF push for upgrading military equipment is coming at least as much from the United States and Australia as from any domestic need or war-hungry constituency. Trump has loosened restrictions on exports and pushed overseas weapons sales as a key part of US economic survival. He has travelled the world, haranguing world leaders to spend more on weapons. New Zealand has not been left out of that conversation. Stuff reports that, “Some Bushmasters are already in service with the SAS and they’re widely used across other Five Eyes nations.” Bingo.
So why isn’t anyone saying anything?
Good question. The National government planned a $20 billion spend up, and this government has seen to it that it happens. New Zealand First is leading the charge, for sure, but the idea that climate change and humanitarian aid is military work is very much on the Green Party. They embraced the idea that NZ needs a standing army which they have reconciled with their principle of non-violence. Go figure. Noam Chomsky will tell you ‘military humanism’ is an oxymoron – militaries are made to kill people not aid them. And there is a good reason why that delineation should remain.
We should all have had just about enough of this insanity tbh: there is no military threat to New Zealand. The military will tell you that themselves. There is, however, widespread financial hardship, gross inequality and deprivation – and not just because of Covid, but because of decades of destroying our social safety net that provided adequate housing and guaranteed employment for all.
Military spending robs us: it robs us of health care for our elderly parents; it robs us of childcare for our babies, it robs us of benefits people can live on, it robs us of art, music and culture, it robs us of housing. Just as an example, the $1 billion that is being spent on five new airplanes to fly soldiers around is twice as much money as that needed for the Christchurch hospital project ($440 million). Instead, the hospital project got a capped $150 million an amount doctors have said is a “train wreck” and creates a building that is “not fit for purpose.” In Whangarei, clinicians have begged for a new hospital and doctors are openly worried about the safety of some patients due to the poor state of the buildings. Instead the billion-dollar rebuild plan that it’s been working on for five years, has been turned down.
New Zealand spends more than $10 million a day on the military. It is time that we stop accepting the parliamentary consensus on military expansion and start organising a non-violent transformation.