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PM must not proceed with gutting of Air Force

Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

8 October 2001

PM must not proceed with gutting of Air Force

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley today called for the Government to immediately rescind its planned redundancies in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and put plans in place to restore New Zealand's air strike capability and upgrade our intelligence gathering capacity.

"Most people will be outraged at the stupidity of Helen Clark in allowing RNZAF redundancies to go ahead on the exact same day our allies begin a crucial fight to protect freedom," Jenny Shipley said.

"The network of terrorist organisations which has created the current world crisis is widespread, and no democratic nation can truly feel immune from its reach. It would be pure madness for the Labour-Alliance Government to continue with its ideologically-driven programme of disarmament in the current situation.

"The planned redundancies must be cancelled. In addition, the Government must immediately institute a strategy to restore strike capacity for our Air Force and to upgrade our Orions so they can function with interoperable intelligence gathering capability alongside our allies.

"This is not a political game. This is about protecting the security of our citizens and of our allies.

"For National this is a line in the sand. We will re-establish an air strike capability and move to upgrade the Orions so that New Zealand is doing its bit and not freeloading on the rest of the world.

"Our sense of security, and our international responsibility, could be restored for less money than it has cost to bail-out Air New Zealand. To put that another way, we could play our part in the defence of world freedom and liberty for less than half of one year's contribution to the flawed Cullen super fund.

"The Government must heed this call. To dismantle our Air Force in the current world situation would be a dangerous and foolhardy step," Jenny Shipley said.

Ends

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