Army Cost Blowout – Headache For Taxpayers
“Admission that the Army’s Armoured purchase price has burgeoned to a massive $700 million dollars is clear evidence that the project has now become a political hot potato and the decision should be revisited,” said Ron Mark, New Zealand First Spokesman for Defence.
“When the Army started looking for replacements for its ageing Armoured Personnel Carriers, parliament was told that the cost would be around $240 million, then it was $350 million. I later advised the house that my information indicated that the price tag had shot to $600 million. At first the Minister denied it, but when he announced his decision to buy the luxurious LAV III, the tag had gone to $611 million. Today the Minister of Defence confirmed that the price is now $700 million and I have every reason to suspect that he will not see change out of $750 million,” he said
“The reason for the blowout is not clear, but one thing is for sure, the US dollar can not be blamed for the 300% increase in the estimates. It is time for the Prime Minister to ask the hard question of the Chief of Defence Force, if we are to spend $750 million on the urgent needs of our Defence Force, where should we spend it?” Mr Mark suggested.
“I say she should give all junior ranks a pay increase now, tell the Army to find a cheaper APC or only buy sufficient to re-equip the Armoured corps and not the two infantry battalions. They could then use any surplus to either upgrade our helicopters, for it is helicopters not APCs that are the work horses in places such as Bougainville and East Timor,” Mr Mark concluded.