Air NZ ferrying of Australian troops to Iraq ‘appalling’

The revelations in the latest Investigate magazine that Air New Zealand has been flying Australian combat troops across the Pacific and up to the Iraqi border is an appalling piece of misjudgement by the airline, Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“You would have thought that the national carrier would know what our national policy was concerning New Zealand’s combat role in Iraq. From the outset, the Government has wisely chosen not to get militarily involved in Iraq. Air New Zealand has now made this country complicit in the occupation of Iraq,” Mr Locke says.

“One reason we have not been exposed to the terrorism threats experienced by the US, Australia and Britain is that we have supported the UN stance, and not been part of the so-called Coalition of the Willing. For the sake of a few dollars of business, Air New Zealand has now exposed the airline, its travellers and the country to an extra risk of revenge attacks.

“In recent weeks, Labour MPs have made a meal out of John Key’s flip flops on whether the National Party did, or didn’t, support being militarily involvement in Iraq. This Air New Zealand involvement has now exposed the Government to the same charge of inconsistency.

“The Government has been more than happy to publicly reap the rewards of keeping this country out of the Iraqi quagmire – when behind the scenes, the airline in which it retains a controlling interest has been just as happy to pursue and win tenders to ferry foreign troops to the war zone.

“Labour says Ministers were not informed, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was. At the very least, the Government must initiate an inquiry as to what happened and bring to account those responsible. There should be a shake-up at Air New Zealand, given some of its executives seem to have lost their moral compass.

“The Government must do more than indicate its disapproval to the airline. It must state that it is ethically repugnant for our national carrier to contribute to the disastrous war in Iraq, and it must never happen again.

“It should not be merely a commercial decision for the airline,” Mr Locke says.