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ACT urges caution over F16 contracts

The ACT Caucus welcomes the appointment of the Hon Derek Quigley to conduct an independent review of defence spending, ACT Leader Richard Prebble said today.

"Derek Quigley, who chaired the first ever Parliamentary review of defence and also conducted the Quigley Review in the 1980s is very well qualified for the task," Mr Prebble said.

"Derek Quigley's views will be his own - not ACT's.

"The ACT Caucus allowed Derek Quigley to chair the select committee review of defence - independent of party politics. The Select Committee Report is an important contribution to an intelligent debate over defence spending.

"The ACT Caucus has very serious reservations over the wisdom of cancelling a defence contract. The reasons given by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, are nonsense. The F16 purchase is most certainly included in defence financial base lines because the Fiscal Responsibility ACT requires this. Claims that the contract is really $1.2 billion do not appear to ACT to be credible but no doubt the Quigley review will reveal the true situation.

"The issue now is not whether the F16 was a better choice than five Hercules C130 J aircraft but whether cancelling the purchase will do irrefutable harm to our relationships with not just the USA but also to Australia.

"One thing is clear. Regardless of what the contract may say, cancelling the contract will not be penalty free."

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