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F16 lease arrangement "a great deal" says Treasury

Treasury has confirmed that the F16 deal that this Government is about to ditch is, in its estimation, a great deal, says National's Defence spokesman Wayne Mapp.

"Speaking at the Finance and Expenditure select committee today, Treasury head Alan Bollard confirmed that if we are to replace the A4 Skyhawks with leased F16's, then the lease arrangement is "a great deal".

"The Treasury have done the numbers and even they, who are usually against any expenditure, can see what a good deal the F16's are."

Dr Mapp also disputed the assertion that it would cost just $12 million to cancel the F16 contract.

"The reality is that New Zealand has already spent over $35 million on the F16 deal. With the addition of another $12 million, New Zealand will have spent almost $50 million and will have nothing to show for it, except for ill will with our two most important allies - the United States and Australia.

"We will also have lost the opportunity cost of selling the Skyhawks while they retain useful life - which would have got us $150 million to off-set the cost of leasing the F16's

"Selling off the Skyhawks now, without replacing them with the F16's, would radically downgrade our armed forces. In the words of "The Australian" newspaper, we would be taking the bludger's option, leaving it to Australia to provide all the naval and combat air power in the event of a threat to the security of either New Zealand or Australia.

"As the Prime Minister leaves for Australia today, I call on her to be honest about the true cost of canceling this defence deal - both in terms of money and in terms of the damage it will do to New Zealand's long term security interests," Dr Mapp said today.

Ends


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