INDEPENDENT NEWS

Minister Trying To Hide 'Bad Blood' In Defence

Published: Thu 23 Aug 2001 03:47 PM
Minister of Defence Mark Burton is being flagrantly reckless in trying to pretend there is no on-going problem within the army that needs to be addressed, National's Defence spokesman Max Bradford said today.
"Mark Burton's trying to bury his head in the sand, just as he has done with New Zealand Post," Mr Bradford said.
"The Attorney General's report showed that further investigation is needed to get to the bottom of why successive Ministers have been mislead by the army over New Zealand's defence needs.
"Mark Burton wants to march on and ignore the problems, so that New Zealanders can't really find out what was behind the huge cost of the LAVs. Army officials will continue to run their own agendas if this is not sorted out.
"The army is the problem - it's clear the defence acquisition process worked perfectly well for the navy and the airforce when they made much more complex purchases.
"What surprises me most about the Auditor General's report is how he can conclude the LAV IIIs are the best vehicle for the job when he has nothing to back it up. His report actually says more outside expertise was needed to advise on the purchase.
"It is also amazing he finds in favour of the LAV III without even discussing the matter with senior acquisition personnel in defence - these include Robin Johanssen the former chief acquisition specialist in the Ministry of Defence, the former Defence Chief Lieutenant General Tony Birks and former Defence Secretary Gerald Hensley.
"The Minister is trying to bury something and cover up the unhealthy relationship between the army and other defence forces by not having a full inquiry," Mr Bradford said.
Ends

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