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Yet another embarrassing Air Force break-down

Simon Power MP National Party Defence Spokesman

20 January 2004

Yet another embarrassing Air Force break-down

National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power says the resourcing of our Air Force is being called into question again, with yet another high profile failure.

He's commenting after this afternoon's emergency landing at Whenuapai by one of the Air Force's 'new' planes - a Boeing 757 which was bought second hand.

"For the second time in less than a fortnight one of our Air Force planes has been at the centre of an embarrassing breakdown.

"This follows a fault with a C130 Hercules earlier in January, at the height of relief efforts in Niue and it's the latest in a long line of Air Force problems," says Mr Power.

"In August last year, New Zealand soldiers had to wait nearly a week to get to the Solomon Islands because four of our five Hercules were grounded and the fifth was working in the Afghanistan region.

"Nine months earlier troops returning from East Timor were stuck, unable to get home, because a Hercules was delayed in Christchurch with equipment problems.

"This Government spends just 0.9% of GDP on defence, while Australia spends 1.7% of GDP, or A$11 billion.

"Our armed forces deserve better and now that Mark Burton's back from holiday, perhaps he could turn his attention to making sure our people aren't put at risk through equipment failure.

"Labour always claims that the key aim of the Defence Force is peacekeeping, search and rescue and disaster relief. But how can we do the job properly with equipment that's constantly in need of repair?" asks Mr Power.


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