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MP takes local outrage to Minister

Simon Power National MP for Rangitikei

4 October 2001

MP takes local outrage to Minister

Rangitikei MP Simon Power today confronted the Minister of Defence in Parliament following last night's public meeting in Bulls over the Government's Airforce cutbacks.

At last night's meeting 350 people unanimously condemned the Government's decision to disband the Airforce's fighter wing.

In Parliament's Question Time Mr Power asked Mark Burton if he is 'prepared to reconsider the decision to disband New Zealand's air combat capability in light of the 11 September attacks in the United States?' Mr Burton responded with a resounding 'no'.

"Unfortunately the Minister's unsatisfactory answer confirmed New Zealanders' worst fears: Despite the recent and unprecedented large-scale terrorism the Government still refuses to take common sense into account.

"Alarmingly, Mark Burton and the Prime Minister still believe their ideology, which tells them we live in an 'incredibly benign strategic environment'.

"Now is not the time to downgrade our defence capabilities. The world has become a more uncertain place and New Zealanders have been clearly rattled. The latest opinion polls show overwhelming public opposition to the Government's Airforce cut-backs.

Mr Power also asked the Minister if he accepts 'that disbanding New Zealand's air combat capability will contribute to the loss of hundreds of jobs in the Bulls area and how does this fit with the Government's Regional Development policy?'

"The Minister's dismissive response to the plight of local people has provided comfort to nobody. While New Zealanders are concerned about their security, Rangitikei communities are also extremely worried about their economic future.

"At the very least the Government should now review its defence policy. But the Minister's negative response today unfortunately confirmed no such luck," Mr Power said.

Ends

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