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East Timor Deployment Special Report: Devonport, Parliament, US Darwin - Ansett Strike - Poll Results - Bombing - All Black Plane Ready For Cup Flight

TROOPS HEAD FOR TIMOR WITH OVERWHELMING PUBLIC SUPPORT

INTRO: Help on its way for refugees. Food and blankets are to be dropped to refugees With every hour the international force is growing in Darwin. In NZ preparations for sending more troops are underway

DEVONPORT: Live Devonport Naval Base - Frigate Canterbury and 275 crew are preparing to depart for Darwin. In a snap-poll 79% of the public support the deployment. It is likely helicopters and supplies will catch a lift on a massive US transport plane.

The PM says there could be casualties but wives are putting on a brave face.

Canterbury will take nine days to join the multinational force.

PARLIAMENT: In Parliament MPs put their support behind the troops. PM says East Timor will not be a "soft option". National needs a mandate from Parliament. Today it got it. Support is tempered by criticism of the equipment the Defence Force is taking with them. Ron Mark says NZ needs a strong credible defence force. Max Bradford says he accepts some of the the criticisms. The riskiest mission since Vietnam but there the similarities end as an overwhelming majority support the operation.

US: President Clinton has announced a US contribution after consulting with Congress. We will deploy about 200 people around half on the ground in East Timor, he says. At present the focus is on air power and air-lifting aid.

DARWIN: The first aid air-drop takes to the air. Major General Peter Cosgrove expected to head to Dili tomorrow. John Howard was confronted on talkback by the mother of a service man. Meanwhile 30 babies baptised at tent city Darwin.

Reporter Cliff Joiner Live - the air drop mission today picked up an observer from Dili and then dropped the supplies near Imera (sp?). The leader of UN mission is expected to go to Dili at the weekend. It is likely troops will follow. Who will go is not yet public.

ANSETT STRIKE:: Two sides are still deadlocked. Irate parents upset about no flights to national sports champs in Christchurch. Pilots remain locked-out. Analysts are reluctant to talk publicly about the dispute. Pilots are relaxed about continuing the strike. Air NZ is putting on 50 extra flights.

ELECTION DATE: To be announced in five days time.

Linda Clark Live - Poll Results show no evidence of APEC feel-good factor so far.

National - 35% down 3
Labour - 41% up 1
Act 5% down 2
Alliance 7% steady
NZ First 4 % steady

Poll would show Labour and Alliance with an outright majority. And even if NZ First and United won seats they could not govern.

In Preferred PM stakes

Shipley's standing up 2 to 23%
Clark 21% steady
Others not in the running.

Morale boost however has been given in the last few days. The poll results will still come as a surprise to National who had expected to do better. However there could be a lag according to some analysts. Others say elections are won in the "head" and this has done a lot to boost the way National feels about itself.

Theory that election day will be World Cup final day. Then election night parties will have double the appeal.

RUSSIA BOMBS: Another explosion - this time in St Petersburg.

Plane item later in bulletin……will follow

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