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3/5 Still Oppose Axing Of Air Combat Force

Save Our Squadrons Campaign

16 July 2002

Three Out Of Five Voters Still Oppose Axing Of Air Combat Force

60% of voters still disagree with the Government's decision to disband the air combat force according to a DigiPoll survey released today. Arranged by defence lobby group, Save Our Squadrons Campaign (SOS), the survey of 911 eligible voters, was conducted from 13-15 July. It has a margin of error of 3.4%.

"Since the air combat decision was first announced in early May last year public opposition has actually grown, rather than waned as Labour no doubt hoped" said SOS spokesperson David Dickens.

"A One News/Colmar Brunton Poll released on 13 May 2001 found that 55% of voters disagreed with the decision to axe the squadrons. That figure has now grown to 60%."

"This is one of those issues where Labour has just refused to listen to ordinary New Zealanders."

"Labour went into the last election saying they would review the deal to lease 28 F-16's but then chose to ignore Derek Quigley's recommendation that the deal proceed, but with just 14 F-16's. Labour's decision to totally erase rather than merely downsize the air combat force, appears to have been more to do with ideology than logic. Certainly there was no economic or defence imperative behind the decision. Quigley's recommendation of 14 F-16's, 11 Aermacchi trainers and one air base would have reduced the annual cost of the air combat force from $80 million to just $50 million. From the surveys we have carried out over the last 12 months we know that most New Zealander's would happily pay an additional $12.50 each per year to have an air combat force".

"We also know that a furious battle took place behind closed doors between the Government and the Defence Force over this decision. To this day the Government is still trying to keep a lid on this by refusing to provide relevant documents under the Official Information Act."

The DigiPoll survey also revealed that 40% of voters say that the air combat force issue will be either very important or quite important when deciding which party will get their party vote.

"Another finding from the DigiPoll survey which may surprise some is that the percentage in opposition to the air combat decision is remarkably consistent across all age groups. In fact the figure for 18-34 year olds was 61.5% while that for 55 years and over was 61%. Another interesting finding is that among those who voted Labour at the last election, 44% disagree with the decision while 45% agree, which is almost a 50/50 split."

Further information available at http://www.soscampaign.co.nz


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