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Charles Upham Sold For Peanuts

The Government's sale of army transport ship the Charles Upham has shown its incompetence on defence yet again, National's Defence spokesperson Max Bradford said today.

"Selling the ship that was to have a very important role for such small peanuts shows that the Government does not know what it is doing.

"Against the wordwide trend of Governments reducing the size of their army and beefing up their air combat capability, the New Zealand Government has sold the only ship that would have been able to deploy New Zealand's armed forces and armoured personnel carriers to UN peace keeping roles.

"New Zealanders have to find out through a media leak two weeks after the ship's sale how little the Government got for it.

"National bought the ship second-hand, expecting to spend several million dollars upgrading it so it could be used to carry military vehicles, a far cheaper option than buying a new ship for over $100 million.

"The facts are this: The Charles Upham cost $14 million and with an investment of a further $35 million it would have been able to perform a very credible task as the Defence Forces' heavy military sealift capability. Nothing has changed.

"The decision to sell the Charles Upham and Helen Clark's decision to scrap the air force will be proven by history to be monumental mistakes in New Zealand's defence policy," Mr Bradford said.

Ends

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