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Clark and Burton Must Take Responsibility

Clark and Burton Must Take Responsibility for Document Destruction

Thursday 27 Dec 2001 Rodney Hide Press Releases -- Foreign Affairs & Defence

ACT Finance Spokesman MP Rodney Hide said today that Defence Minister Mark Burton and Prime Minister Helen Clark must take direct responsibility for Army Chief Major General Maurice Dodson's destruction of official documents.

The destruction of documents and Maj Gen Maurice Dodson's culpability were revealed through the investigators' report to Chief of Defence Force Carey Adamson, released to Mr Hide under the Official Information Act.

"The politicians must front up to the problems. Successive governments have run our military into the ground without adequate support. The army, navy and air force have been left to cannibalise each other. That's why the army has been so desperate to win dwindling resources.

"Now we have a do-nothing Minister in Mark Burton who has left the military directionless and leaderless. Prime Minister Helen Clark has regularly interfered in military decisions and in doing so has politicised the army chiefs. This is unacceptable. This is the backdrop against which the latest revelations should be viewed.

"The investigators found that `the allegations of document destruction were proven'. The documents concerned `two separate, although possibly connected, clusters of material: * a quantity of personal and official documents [8-9 lever arch folders] belonging to the former Chief of General Staff Maj Gen P Reid (Rtd). * Documents provided by the Army's communications consultants Communications Trumps Ltd.'

"The Investigation Team found that the Army General Staff Registrar destroyed the Reid Papers under orders from the present Chief of General Staff, Maj Gen Maurice Dodson. The Team found that Communications Trumps' reports had been destroyed, one of them on instructions from Maj Gen Dodson.

"The Investigation Team found that `it is clear from evidence from Brig Gardiner and [name blanked out] that CGS sought the destruction of Communications Trumps Ltd material to avoid any embarrassment that may accrue from subsequent forced disclosure under the OIA. It is our view that a prima facia case exists that CGS ordered the destruction of official documents.'

"The document destruction all took place in the second half of this year. The destruction of official information is serious and I am afraid that Maj Gen Dodson should be immediately stood down from duties. He should not stay on as head of the army facing the serious charges that he faces.

"But the Minister and the Prime Minister must take responsibility. Helen Clark should stop being the de-facto Minister of Defence and become the actual Minister of Defence and work to sort out the problems.

"We also need all political parties to commit to funding the military properly. We can't expect the military to undertake the present role New Zealand expects of them without adequate resources. Adequate funding would go a long way to sorting out the problems."

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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