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Poll Shows Most New Zealanders Want Air Force

Saturday, September 29 2001

A poll showing 73 percent of New Zealanders don't want the air combat force disbanded, represents a huge shift in public opinion, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.

The Colmar Brunton poll also found 57 percent of New Zealanders believe a political party's policy on an air combat capability will important in deciding their vote at the next election.

"ACT's defence experts advise that the decision to sell the Aermacchi trainers is particularly foolhardy," Mr Prebble said.

"ACT believes the government should take notice of the poll, and the changed security situation, and the fact that they will receive very little money for either the Skyhawks or the Aermacchis.

"The trainers have little resale value but are still relatively modern. They give the air force the ability to keep together a core of pilots and, just as importantly, the highly professional technicians needed for an air combat wing.

"The government ought to reconsider their assumption that we live in a benign security environment. If the government does away with the air trainers it could take a decade and large sums of money to recreate the air force capability that successive governments have built up.

"If Helen Clark won't make the decision for sound defence reasons, perhaps this poll may motivate the government to reconsider it defence strategy," Mr Prebble said.

ENDS


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