Now before I start... those that know me, follow this website, know I want a stronger defence force, and I want to raise defence spending.
However I see a lot of people going on about Singapore and it goes something like this;
Singapore has a similar population to New Zealand and they have a better defence force.
The first thing I look at is the GDP of New Zealand and Singapore, so for example in 2018 Singapore's GDP was 364.2 billion USD and New Zealand had a GPD of 205 billion USD an extra 159 Billion dollars...???
I then look at the strength of the currency, or buying power of the dollars. At the time of writing this 1 Singapore Dollar equals 0.74c United States Dollar and 1 NZD equals 0.67 United States Dollar.
Meaning even if both counties were spending 2% of GDP, Singapore would still have more money and their dollar would be able to buy more.
At current exchange rate what Singapore can buy for $500,000 SPD, New Zealand to get the exact same thing has to pay $548,214.56 NZD or another way of saying it;
NZ had to pay 1.2 Billion for the P8's and infrastructure Singapore to do exactly the same are only paying a billion... saving 200 million dollars. Spending that 200M on other equipment that NZ can not buy.
The 2% of GPD is BS... In my humble opinion. As there is more to it than just a percentage. The buying power of said currency, the actual level of GDP. Now add in where equipment is being bought, and from where. China, Russia? or US or Europe.
Other things to consider is the country's Defence Industry itself, example; Singapore has its own ship building and defence industry. It becomes in the best interest of the government to use this as that money goes back in to the community and can grow the overall GDP.
It is not just Singapore, Philippines has a similar defence budget and has a better defence force. But do they, do the really have a better defence force?
Another thing to consider is pay rates of the personal. What do they pay a filipino soldier compared to the New Zealand soldier as an example? When you look at New Zealand, pay takes up nearly a quarter of the budget. Now we have to clothe them, feed them, continuously train them.
How many operations are they on over the said year? How many exercises does the country hold per year, and many deployments they get deployed on?
Now add in the actual level of maintenance that is regularly carried out, as well as operational costs of said ship, vehicle, aircraft etc. The NH-90 is expensive per hour flying compared to the SeaSprite.
New Zealand regularly deploys, its defence force on UN missions, whether they are anti pirate, peace keeping, helping our Australian brothers in arms fighting fires, HADR, SAR, maritime patrols, Antarctica support and supply, example; currently the Air Force is on it's third UN mission in the sanctions against North Korea.
Does the Philippines have an actual separate coast guard on a separate budget, to take up some of these operations and patrols? In the Philippines case, they do and they get an extra 1/2 billion dollars to carry out their operations, the maritime boarder patrols that come out of our Navy and airforce budget. This budget is just an operating budget it doesn't buy the equipment either, they are separate investment made by the government. Another words this budget is only an operating coast or running cost.
New Zealand regularly holds exercises, from the international bi-annual Southern Katipo exercise, to various other minor exercises like Joint Waka, Exercise Steel Talon, Sari Bair and regularly attends, the US lead Pacific Partnership, the FPDA Exercise Bersama Lima, the USN exercise RimPac, The Australian exercise Tailsman Sabre, The French exercise CROIX DU SUD and many others.
Some things are just more expensive in New Zealand, and that is being a remote set of islands in the South Pacific, and lot of things have to be imported increasing the costs, and unfortunately not a lot we can do with that. It is what it is.
All this has to come out of the defence budget. So it is not just about buying equipment. There many other expenditures to think about and are involved and other considerations that have to put into the calculation when you start to compare to other nations and the Defence Force.
On a final note you have to look at where the country is in the world, what are there security needs, and the country's actual defence policy overall and you will find they will be totally different.
Now again I am all for us having a stronger defence force, and do want the NZG to up our game. But it is not just about spending money on equipment there are other things to consider. New Zealand is currently has $20 Billion over 15 years just on equipment modernisation. That is an extra 1.34 billion dollars a year over and above the standard defence budget.