I always thought that when game developer puts something into a game it's not an exploit (as you can bind Z-axis to any key in options...) and it adds additional dimension into a game, allowing you bypass mine fields for example. I'd never use it to exploit game mechanics, but for strategical purpose. In this case I think some in-game mechanics needs fixing (like the starbase being unable to fire above(!!!)) rather than forbidding for using a good feature.
To detail my point further - usually you can't go above (or under) the land mines without using other means than being afoot. It's rare to have underground tunnel leading pass the minefield, that's why man had to develop other means of dealing with manefields; either by disabling them manually or equipping tanks with minesweeper devices. In space it's possible to bypass them. Such maneuver cost time, but won't endanger the fleet. It's logical choice of actions. Problem is when one can't set minefields on Z-axis and that's the problem, not Z-axis itself.
I have to say that 3D movement in space only confirms the theory that setting stationary defenses in space is obsolete if they aren't placed near structures and planets they are supposed to protect: if it's fair to avoid defenses of another player on XY-axis it also should be allowed to avoid them by using Z-axis. But avoid, not to place yourself at the top of enemy starbase and exploit weakness of the system!
That's why my point is to keep Z-axis and plug the holes mentioned by other players. It's also a question of fairness and honor of the other players. Cheating and exploiting is bad as it breaks the whole point of struggling against another player. It's sad that some people will go to any lenght only to secure victory. However, it works both ways - I can't agree with all points made by people who see any use of Z-axis as exploiting the game. Z-axis has a future as a feature, disregarding it altogether is just as wrong as mentality to use any exploit to win the game.