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Mark Calls On Government To Save Air Force

MARK CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO SAVE AIR FORCE

New Zealand First Spokesman for Defence, Ron Mark MP, is asking when the Government will be satisfied that it has destroyed New Zealand's Air Force, following the announcement that 300 Airforce staff are to be made redundant this year, and a further 400 are to be made redundant over the next 4 years.

"Mr Anderton made a political career bemoaning mass redundancies under National and if a private company was to lay that many staff off, he would be crying blue murder. But for some reason it's perfectly acceptable for this government to slash into one of New Zealand's most vital defence capabilities, and put Air Force personnel and their families on the scrap heap," said Mr Mark.

"The speed and totality of the destruction of the Royal New Zealand Air Force indicates just how completely the Army has been able to influence Labour Party policy and New Zealand Defence Forces as a whole will be the big losers.

"It is a tragedy that the branches of the New Zealand Defence Force now see each other as competitors for funding, rather than as a force with a common purpose. That is an indictment on how our defence policy has been formulated in recent years.

"How the Alliance and the Greens can sit by and allow Labour to spend $750million on an APC when they considered $360million for the F16s as too expensive is beyond me. It only goes to show the level of influence senior army officers both currently serving and recently retired are exerting on Helen Clark and Mark Burton.

"I would urge Mr Anderton and Mr Burton to show some spine on this issue. At the very least they should tell the Army to find a cheaper APC than the LAV3; to buy less; and to put the $390million savings into re-equipping the Air Force," concluded Mr Mark.

ENDS

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