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Orions not up to scratch for Iraq

Richard Worth MP National Defence Spokesman

09 December 2002

Orions not up to scratch for Iraq

The National Party's accusing the Government of being all talk no action in relation to its long awaited announcements on defence spending.

"Now we know the Government's to send an ill-equipped Orion into a world hot-spot, but we've been told that's okay, because it'll be getting its upgrade after it gets back," says National's Defence spokesman Richard Worth.

"Let's get real Labour, you're putting Kiwi service personnel at risk, they should at least have the equipment they need to provide some useful assistance in the Gulf.

"The National Party welcomes the commitment to defence, but questions the timing.

"With the planned deployment of our people in the Gulf, I would hope that interim equipment upgrades would have been possible, " he says.

"It seems with the benefit of hindsight that the decision by the present Government to abandon Project Sirus (which involved the Orion upgrade) is now recognised as having been ill-considered.

"Even after the planned upgrade there are still questions about whether our Orions will be inter-operable with those of Australia."

Richard Worth's also concerned that the public haven't had the chance to debate the future of the Whenuapai Airbase, which is now described as being surplus to defence requirements.

"In the context of the West Auckland community this is a very significant decision which will have substantial economic impacts," he says.

"We should be encouraging open discussion about military options, rather than decisions made behind closed doors without the benefit of community consultation, " says Mr Worth.


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