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Nats Astray On RNZAF Staffing

3 November 2000

Defence Minister Mark Burton said today National Party claims about the Air Force's personnel situation were a limp scaremongering exercise.

"It is wrong to suggest that the Air Force is considering critical manning provisions or making available lump sum payments in order to retain staff," Mark Burton said.

"The Chief of Air Staff and senior officers met informally this week for a routine review of personnel issues. I have been advised that the present situation is manageable and the group focused instead on longer term management issues.

"Therefore, talk of a staffing crisis is extravagant nonsense.

"Because of its small size, the Air Force is vulnerable to the loss of relatively small numbers of experienced personnel in some areas.

"For example, there are currently three Hercules instructors and one – who has completed 20 years service – has submitted his notice.

"National is well wide of the mark with its claims about lump sum payments. Lump sum payments have occurred over many years and the most recent occasion was not a response to the F-16s decision. The most recent were in fact proposed in September last year.

"I have confidence in the professional ability of the Air Force to provide appropriate management, so as to ensure that proper levels of supervision and tasking are maintained.

"The fact the National Party is using Annabel Young, rather than its defence spokesperson, to run this 'scandal' suggests they know it has little merit," Mark Burton said.


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