INDEPENDENT NEWS

White Elephant Priority Over Defence Personell

Published: Wed 25 Oct 2006 09:27 AM
Labour's White Elephant Gets Priority Over Defence Force Personnel
Heather Roy
Tuesday, 24 October 2006
Press Releases - Defence
Associate Defence Minister Annette King, answering on behalf of the Minister, was unable to confirm in Parliament today that full funding availability is a key element for defence units to maintain personnel numbers, says ACT National Security Spokesman, Heather Roy.
"The New Zealand Defence Force annual report indicates the army, navy and air force are all struggling to maintain operational capabilities, facing staff shortages and aging equipment", Heather Roy said.
"Government-imposed costs are making it difficult for the services to fulfil their obligations to attract and retain recruits.
"Written Parliamentary Questions show that costs of around $12 million have been incurred by the RNZAF through the Air Combat Force Disposal Unit, to maintain the Aermaachi fleet for a sale that looks likely to never happen.
"This is funding that should be going towards pay, bullets and baked beans.
"The Defence Force's annual report, just released, shows no mention of the costs incurred by maintaining the Skyhawk or Aermaachi fleets, except for a brief note referring to "Air Combat Force disposal costs" under the heading "Other Expenses" at the back of the report.
"There is no output class, meaning that nothing is produced as a result of this expenditure, yet the Air Force is expected to use $1.7 million of its operational budget each year to maintain these aircraft for sale.
"Maintaining the Skyhawk and Aermaachi fleets is an expensive white elephant, drawing critical funding away from looking after service men and women standing on the front lines.
"It's like coming home to find a burglar has taken possession of the house contents, expecting them to be insured and cared for, until the burglar is in a position to come and pick them up.
ENDS

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