Air Force repair of Indonesian warplanes outrageous

The Green Party today atttacked Defence Minister Max Bradford for allowing New Zealand Air Force personnel to repair Indonesian Skyhawk jets.

“It’s outrageous that we would be helping the Indonesian military like this, given the continuing atrocities in East Timor,” said Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke.

“It’s not fair on the Kiwi police monitors who are off to East Timor this week. They’ll be asked why their government is helping maintain the Indonesian military machine,” he said.

Mr Locke said that until now, the government had kept quiet about military involvement in the SAFE Air contract to refurbish the two Skyhawk yets.

“Now, in answer to a Green Party parliamentary question, Mr Bradford has admitted the Air Force repaired ejection seats, oxygen systems and exit facilities to help SAFE Air meet its contract.

“New Zealand is operating a double standard. There’s no way we’d be helping the Serb military subjugate ethnic Albanians, yet it is deemed okay to help equip the Indonesian army, which is involved in its own ethnic violence, in this case against the Timorese people,” said Mr Locke.

“The least New Zealand can do now is impound these Skyhawks. In answer to another Green Party parliamentary question, Foreign Minister Don McKinnon said the government has the power to withhold an export permit. We hope he will keep the Skyhawks here during this difficult time for the Timorese people,” said Mr Locke.