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Inquiry Re Advice To Govt's On Lavs Needed

As a result of this year's select committee estimates and substantial information emerging from within the defence forces, I am calling on the Government to support a full inquiry into the proposed purchase of the army armoured personnel carriers, National's Defence spokesperson Max Bradford said today.

"There needs to be a proper explanation as to why the cost has exploded from $212 million when I was Minister, to $658 million now. There are strong rumours that this is not the end of the growing cost either.

"Furthermore evidence is emerging that the last National Government and possibly the Labour-Alliance Government have not been given full advice on the adequacy or otherwise of the LAVs for the New Zealand Defence Force needs.

"This month I wrote to the Auditor General asking him to widen his inquiry to include the period when I was Minister so that all relevant information forms part of his review.

"Today I have written to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Defence offering the Opposition's support to ensure that the Auditor General's investigation is a full and proper one, and to support a parliamentary inquiry by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee.

"This whole project now has a distinct smell about it, particularly as seems to involve a disquieting difference of opinion within the army, and between the army and the chief of the Defence Force and the Ministry of Defence.

"The full information and extent of the army's advice and diversity of opinion should have been known to the Government of the day. This is particularly so given that the costs have exploded and there is now doubt about whether the vehicles are adequate for the tasks needed, whether in a peacekeeping or combat role," Mr Bradford said.

Ends


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