INDEPENDENT NEWS

Keep Our Strike Force Squadron by Rejoining ANZUS

Published: Wed 17 Oct 2001 03:45 PM
Keep Our Strike Force Squadron by Rejoining ANZUS
New Zealand can keep an air strike capacity only by rejoining ANZUS, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.
Mr Prebble today told a public rally in Auckland calling on the government not to disband the Skyhawk squadron, that as part of ANZUS New Zealand could get access to the latest equipment and training needed for a modern airforce.
"Any promises to restore a modern strike force squadron without rejoining ANZUS are not credible.
"The events of September 11 show we live in a dangerous world. Helen Clark is being ideological and unrealistic when she maintains that there are no threats to New Zealand.
"Next year, if a hijacker seized an aircraft and announced he was going to crash it into the Beehive, there would be nothing anyone could do. How does the Prime Minister know that won't happen?
"The government's decision to disband the Skyhawks is mistaken and the decision to sell the Aermacchi trainers is reckless folly.
The Aermacchis have a market value of only a few million dollars. But in New Zealand they are priceless. We need the air trainers not just to train future pilots but also to enable the airforce to keep together the trade and technical skills to maintain modern aircraft.
"Labour is following a sack and burn policy. It is determined to destroy the ability of any future government to rebuild the airforce. In a democracy, such a policy is wrong.
"I call on the coalition to at least continue with the air trainers. So, if they are wrong about New Zealand facing no threats, a future government can quickly and relatively cheaply restore our air strike capacity.
"But the key is to rejoin ANZUS," Mr Prebble said.

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