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Labour's fire brigades backdown hailed

Lindsay Tisch National Party Internal Affairs Spokesman

25 February 2005

Labour's fire brigades backdown hailed

Rural communities will be relieved to hear Mark Burton's assurance that their volunteer fire brigades will not lose any appliances, says National's Internal Affairs spokesman, Lindsay Tisch.

"This is great news and we will be holding this Minister and Labour to this assurance. It's a pity he wasn't more upfront with the public right from the start before being forced into this embarrassing backdown.

"But no one should be under any illusion than this is nothing other than a classic case of election-year backdown.

"What Mr Burton is not saying is that there was never any intention to make changes that would have seen rural brigades lose appliances.

"He can't say that because the evidence is there. The Fleet Strategy papers were most definitely not a figment of anyone's imagination.

"Is there a list of brigades that would have been affected? Of course there is. Is there a list of the registration numbers of targeted appliances in each brigade? Of course there is. I can supply them to anyone who wants them.

"Mr Burton accuses me of electioneering, but he is plainly guilty of backing down on this - all because it is election year," Mr Tisch says.

"Rural people should pause to consider what Labour did when the public found out about the plan to cut many rescue helicopters from rural areas - they changed their minds because it is election year.

"The same thing happened to the land access issue. Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton backed down on that very quickly once farmers got wind of what it would mean and now it is supposedly off the agenda. Why? Because it is election year.

"Thanks to the good work of volunteer firefighters and National MPs and candidates, Mr Burton has been forced to see reason. Let's see how long it lasts," Mr Tisch says.

ENDS

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