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Sad to see such an excellent response belittled

19 February 2004 Media Statement

Sad to see such an excellent response belittled

Minister of Defence Mark Burton is today wholeheartedly congratulating the New Zealand Defence Force for their work alongside Civil Defence in the flood-stricken regions of Manawatu and Rangitikei.

“Our service men and women have once again shown the kind of quick response and dedication to duty that has earned them respect around the world. 200 personnel have worked with Civil Defence and local people day and night to manage the aftereffects of this devastating event,” said Mark Burton.

“Defence has met the requests made by Civil Defence, providing 40 vehicles and three Iroquois helicopters to assist with relief efforts. Accommodation was made available at Linton Camp and Ohakea Air Force Base. Efforts were coordinated through Joint Force Headquarters, and the NZDF also deployed liaison officers to all district councils and to the regional civil defence headquarters.

“A defence command post was also established at Linton early on Monday morning. The first call to the command post came at 2.00 am. By 4.30 am, NZDF personnel were on the ground in Fielding, and they have worked tirelessly with Civil Defence since.

“In short, the contribution made by the NZDF has been absolutely outstanding, and I cannot praise them highly enough.

“I am saddened, however, to see Rangitikei MP and National Party Defence Spokesman Simon Power openly denigrating their efforts in an attempt to gain some kind of political advantage for himself by suggesting that Defence were unable to provide adequate capabilities.

“The NZDF was asked for, and provided, three Iroquois helicopters. Had more been required and requested, they were available and would have been provided. Our people have gone above and beyond the call of duty, fulfilling every task asked by Civil Defence, and making a real difference to the lives of those who have been affected by this tragedy. It is despicable to insinuate that their performance has been anything other than outstanding.

“Shame on you Mr Power—what a cheap shot.”

ENDS

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