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National Gives Public Say On Defence

National MPs today launched a petition at Wellington's Cenotaph for a Government policy that includes air and naval combat capability to protect our ground troops.

"On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete this weekend New Zealanders should remember why our country lost so many soldiers in that massacre," Mr English said.

"We lost more than 600 soldiers and 967 others were wounded because the ill-equipped and exhausted allied troops didn't have air cover.

"Our ground troops won't have air cover when they go into future combat because the Government is cutting our air combat capability and reducing our naval force. There are no guarantees for our army because they will be relying on other countries to protect us.

A television poll released at the weekend showed New Zealanders disapproved of the Government's shedding our defence capabilities. "Earlier polls have shown similar results against the Government's plans but its chosen to ignore the public.

"Helen Clark should remember when she is attending the anniversary commemoration this weekend why so many New Zealanders lost their lives on Crete.

"National knows defence is now a major concern to New Zealanders. Our defence policy and our defence forces are crucial to our national and economic security. "We are launching the petition today in light of this. We urge the public to have a say through our petition - a say they should have got before the Government announced it was slicing up defence," Mr English said.

The petition is being circulated around the country from today. National's other recent initiative to open up debate on defence was the launch of the website.


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