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Grounding Skyhawks only the beginning

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesperson

27 February 2001

Grounding Skyhawks only the beginning to dropping fleet

"The Government is starving the New Zealand Air Force into the ground. It should be honest with this force's men and women and tell them that they are going to scrap the Skyhawks, rather than starve them into submission," National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said today.

"The action simply confirms the Government's real agenda is to wind down our air combat capability. What's next?

"The Prime Minister and Minister of Defence are being unbelievably hypocritical in disembowelling our air combat capability rather than telling New Zealanders the truth that they intend to get rid of the Skyhawks.

"This has all been done without any strategic assessment of the need for an air force with teeth. The Australian Government went through an extensive public consultation and strategic assessment exercise last year and decided they needed to put more into defence, not less like this Government.

"It is little wonder that the Australian Government is so dismissive of New Zealand on defence issues. John Howard commented this week that Australia had increased spending on defence and there were implications and consequences for countries that didn't," Mr Bradford said.

"That is a subtle warning for New Zealand - we can expect different treatment from the Australian Government.

Ends

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