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Shipley should stay home says Labour

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Jenny Shipley has been made to see sense and will now stay away from East Timor, but there's also no reason for her to go to Darwin, Labour associate defence spokesperson Rick Barker said.

"Mrs Shipley was very keen to go to East Timor; the military command was probably just as keen for her to stay away.

"They have no time for shameless political posturing and photo opportunities.

"The PM's visit would have raised serious security issues and distracted the troops from their mission - restoring order and protecting the East Timorese.

"That's what they are there to do, not to help the PM's re-election campaign.

"Incredibly, Mrs Shipley is still intending to visit the troops waiting in Darwin. Her Defence Minister Max Bradford is already on his way there. What purpose does a follow-up visit from his boss serve, apart from grandstanding?

"The Government should be focusing on the real issues and how it can be of real help - providing our defence forces with adequate equipment, resources and recognition. The allowances paid to the troops while in East Timor must be increased and made non-taxable.

"The situation in East Timor is serious and our military deserves the full support of the nation. But the money that would be spent on an electioneering trip to Darwin by Jenny Shipley should go instead to the troops.

"Mrs Shipley's political life may be at stake, but the troops in East Timor are the ones putting their lives on the line," Rick Barker said.

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