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Is running away really defence force policy?

Simon Power MP National Party Defence Spokesman

14 August 2003

Is running away really defence force policy?

The National Party is appalled by Government support for a defence policy of 'trying to get away' if our engineers run into trouble while working in Iraq.

"Our defence policy has reached a new low and our fine personnel should not be placed in such an appalling situation," says National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power.

He's commenting after acting Defence Minister Steve Maharey gave his blessing to a comment from Major Greg Wilson who said that if Kiwi personnel came under fire they would try to get away as quickly as possible.

Steve Maharey told Parliament under questioning from Mr Power that he believed that running away would be a prudent course of action.

"It's nothing short of an outrage that our poorly resourced defence force has been reduced to running and hiding.

"The Government should have planned properly to send a sufficiently equipped and prepared group to Iraq," Mr Power says.

"It's clear Labour's half-baked deployment is an attempt to try and repair the damage it has done to New Zealand's international reputation.

"But New Zealanders need to ask what sort of message it sends to our traditional friends and allies when our personnel are given instructions from the Government to 'run away' at the first sign of trouble," says Mr Power.

"What has happened to the fearless ANZAC spirit?

"If New Zealand wants to be taken seriously as a partner in international foreign affairs, the Government must back our defence forces with adequate resources.

"Running away is simply not acceptable," says Mr Power.

Ends

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