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National committed to restoring air strike

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesman

8 May 2001

National committed to restoring air strike capability

National has utterly condemned the Government's decision to axe New Zealand's air strike capability. "It is not overstating the case to say that New Zealand soldiers may end up paying for Labour's decision with their lives," National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said.

"Sending troops into any danger zone without the benefit of air cover reduces those soldiers to the status of cannon fodder. In the event of a conflict within the next few decades our soldiers will be left vulnerable and placed at much higher risk if they have not trained alongside air strike forces.

"That lesson has been apparent since the horrific events surrounding the landing at Gallipoli 86 years ago. Each year we are reminded of those dark days with the caution 'Lest we forget'. Tragically it seems that Labour has forgotten.

"National will not allow the dreadful decision announced today to stand. Immediately on returning to office we will seek meetings with the Australian Government to discuss restoring an air strike capability.

"There are a number of options on how that might be achieved. Partially it will depend on the degree to which the current Government has destroyed the infrastructure around New Zealand's air force. They are rushing to dispose of the planes, and with that will go the pilots, the engineers and the facilities which currently keep our strike force aloft.

"Unlike the Labour-Alliance Government's unilateral approach, National will work closely with the Australian Government to reach an arrangement under the Closer Defence Relationship which protects the interests of the citizens of both countries.

"Defence planning should be about planning for the future. Today's Labour-Alliance announcement is about reverting to the past, but ignoring the lessons we have learned from it," Mr Bradford said.

Ends


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