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Government must pay for bungled Customs exercise

Phil Heatley

MP for Whangarei

20 June 2000

Government must pay for bungled Customs exercise

Whangarei MP Phil Heatley says he'll make it his "personal mission" to ensure Northland Health "doesn't end up one cent out of pocket" as a result of the recent botched Customs exercise.

Under scrutiny from Mr Heatley in parliament today Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle confirmed that ten different agencies knew about a drill involving an imaginary boatload of refugees off the Northland coast.

"Customs knew about the exercise, as did the Navy, MAF, the Maritime Safety Authority, the Ministries of Immigration, Health, Conservation, Foreign Affairs and Defence and even Australian Customs.

"But no one bothered telling Northland Health resulting in considerable inconvenience for staff and patients alike.

In response to a further question from Mr Heatley the Minister invited Northland Health:

"to send us an itemised account for any costs incurred (by Northland Health) which we would look at carefully to make sure the hospital was not out of pocket"

"Ms Bunkle can rest assured that I'll be making sure she doesn't renege on that promise," Phil Heatley says.

"There's no way Northland people should be missing out on operations just because Bunkle's Ministry bungled," Mr Heatley concludes


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