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Skyhawk Decision In Court Tomorrow

Save Our Squadrons spokesman, Vern Curtis, today confirmed that the Campaign’s legal challenge to the Minister of Defence’s decision to disband the Air Combat Force would begin in the Wellington High Court on Thursday at 10a.m.

“The Minister has applied to strike out our Statement of Claim. We anticipate the Minister’s application will be heard at the same time as the Court hears our application for an interim order declaring that the Minister ought not to take any further action [in relation to disbanding the Air Combat Force] pending a full trial,” Mr Curtis said.

“The Campaign’s original objective was to persuade the Government to review its defence strategy in view of recent world developments and, pending the outcome of that process, to suspend its decision to disband the Squadrons by the end of this year.”

“Obviously we have failed to achieve that objective so far.”

“The second phase of our Campaign is the court proceedings which we anticipate should get to trial by the end of this year.”

“We have now decided to modify our objective and commence a third phase of the Campaign. This phase will run in parallel with the court proceedings. It will start now and continue up to next year’s general election and will be planned around the objective of creating total transparency of the defence policy of each of the major political parties.”

“If fully implemented, the Government’s May 8th Defence Statement will significantly erode the ability of the New Zealand Defence Force to discharge its primary role, namely the defence of New Zealand and protection of interests vital to its security. We are concerned that the Government was able to arrive at this decision without a clear and explicit electoral mandate and without publishing a draft document and allowing an opportunity for public consultation like the Australians did.”

“Never again must clever politicians be allowed to make such important decisions without proper electoral scrutiny. When voters complete their ballot papers next year we want them to know the complete truth about where each party, and their potential coalition partners, stand on defence.”

“The anti-defence force views of the Greens are well known. Now the Alliance have shown their true colours. When one factors in the Vietnam protest background of prominent Labour politicians, one begins to understand the genesis of the May 8th Defence Statement.”

“The reality is that this Government has taken over where the Lange Government left off in distancing New Zealand from its most important allies, Australia and the United States. In doing so, it should, at the very least, have made adequate provision for an independent defence capability. Instead it has pursued some form of new age neutrality under which our defence force is to become a coast guard and a group of UN peacekeepers.”

“Labour should give up its pretence of being hawks on defence. Offering 30 SAS soldiers, a Hercules transport plane and some support staff to the United States effort in Afghanistan doesn’t disguise the Government’s true intent on defence in our eyes, nor should it fool anyone else.”

“The vast majority of New Zealanders want the New Zealand Defence Force to possess the capability to ensure our national security irrespective of the presumed remoteness of present risks. We intend to examine in detail every major political party’s defence policy to determine how far they are really prepared to go to achieve that capability. That includes National which has yet to turn out some hard policy on defence.”

“The Campaign intends to expand its focus beyond the air combat and maritime patrol force to include the Government’s treatment of the army and the navy. Among other initiatives we plan to invite experts from Australia and the United States to visit New Zealand and give an “unsanitised perspective” on the long-term impact which the Government’s defence policy is likely to have on our commercial and other relationships with Australia, the United States and other members of the international defence community.”

For further details please contact Vern Curtis (021) 472-316, or Dr David Dickens (04) 463-5434 or (021) 348-022.


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