Stop Shooting at Your Own Side HelenDefence
Labour leader Helen Clark should stop taking pot shots from the sidelines and acknowledge the active role New Zealand is playing with our neighbours over the East Timor crisis, Defence Minister Max Bradford says.
"New Zealand has sent a C130 Hercules to Darwin to assist in any Australian evacuation effort of UN staff in Dili, while another C130 is on standby to offer further help.
"The Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha will take up station off the Timor Sea tomorrow and is to be joined by the Navy tanker HMNZS Endeavour.
"Here in New Zealand, a 350 plus strong peacekeeping contingent comprising a rifle company, armoured vehicles, helicopters and support personnel is on 14 days standby to leave," Mr Bradford said.
Mr Bradford said Helen Clark should not belittle the efforts already underway in a bid to play politics.
"Miss Clark risks being accused of hypocrisy and hollow words.
"It should not be forgotten that this is the same Leader of the Opposition who barely two weeks ago said New Zealand did not need a comprehensive and balanced Defence Force, and did not need a frigate fleet or air combat support for our troops on the ground.
"If Miss Clark and the Labour Party want to be of real assistance in this situation, then instead of wasting powder and shooting at everything the Government is doing, she and the Labour Party should get behind the Government and be more supportive of our Defence Force.
"This is especially important at a time when we may be asking service people to undertake a potentially dangerous mission.
"We haven't seen one ounce of statesmanship by Miss Clark since the East Timor referendum result was known, only party political posturing," Mr Bradford said.