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Skill base lost in Air Force chop for army

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesperson

13 August 2001

Skill base lost in Air Force chop for army

The redundancies of 300 RNZAF personnel is the human cost of the Government's decision to get rid of the Air Force, a huge mistake for New Zealand defence policy and one which the country will come to regret, National's Defence spokesperson Max Bradford said today.

A further 400 positions are to become redundant over the next four years.

"The reason the Government has got rid of the airforce is partly its ideology but also it is becoming increasingly obvious that they had to make deep cuts elsewhere in the defence force to pay for the army's 'Rolls Royce' LAVs. The LAVs, originally budgeted at a cost of $212 million are now expected to cost around $750-800 million.

"The tragedy of losing these skilled people from the airforce is compounded by the fact that the New Zealand industry is losing the most advanced training capability for the aeronautical industry in the country.

"The losers are companies like Air New Zealand and Safe Air.

"Sixty percent of Air New Zealand's aeronautical engineers were trained in the airforce. That's given Air New Zealand the capability to attract overseas contracts amounting to hundreds of million dollars a year in export earnings, as well as maintaining the safest aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region. Blenheim's Safe Air will be one of the companies to lose revenue and skills as a result of this decision.

"Destroying the Air Force is just another facet of the dumbing down of New Zealand industry by the Labour-Alliance government. It makes a mockery of the promise of a 'knowledge wave society' promoted by the Government this month," Mr Bradford said.

Ends


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