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Tuesday 14 May 2002 Rodney Hide Press Releases -- Foreign Affairs & Defence

ACT Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide said he was heartened the new Chief of Defence Force Bruce Ferguson spoke out today against the destructive culture that developed amongst a few in the top ranks of the Army.

"Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson is providing the no-nonsense leadership that New Zealanders expect.

"Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson makes it plain that the attitude of a few was divisive and the fact that it was not stamped out constituted a failure of leadership at the highest level of the Army. He is right.

"Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson also makes it clear that the spending and direction of the Army's Public Relations with Communication Trumps was inappropriate. He is right about that too.

"Former Chief of Defence Force Carey Adamson was placed in an intolerable situation with an Army leadership that was in the words of the current Chief of Defence Force "very divisive," demonstrated "a failure of leadership" and caused "various rifts at a senior command level of the army". It is a tribute to the former Chief of Defence Force that he was able to maintain discipline and service with our military committed to overseas operations on a scale that we have not witnessed for two generations when senior elements in the Army were undermining that effort.

"Air Marshal Carey Adamson maintained that discipline and service despite a complete lack of support from his Minister. The issues that have now been confronted would not ever have been fronted up to if it wasn't for the persistent efforts of opposition MPs against the ostrich-like stance of a Minister of Defence who allowed his Government to be led by the nose to purchase the 105 LAV IIIs by the very army elements now exposed and in disgrace.

"Key to the success of our armed services through this trying time is the dedication of the thousands of men and women who make up our military and who did their job as service personnel proudly and well. It can't be stressed strongly enough that the problems stemmed only from a few individuals.

"Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson as the new Chief of Defence has set the standard that he demands. New Zealand Defence Force now needs all New Zealanders to get in behind him and support him so that he and the service men and women he leads can get on and do the job our country demands.

"Our military need to be properly resourced and trained. That requires multi-party support. The government should immediately re-visit the ridiculous decision made to purchase 105 LAV IIIs. That decision was made when the Army was divided and lacking in leadership. The contract to buy the LAV IIIs can be unilaterally cancelled.

Minister Mark Burton has admitted in reply to question for written answer no. 4686 that "under the terms of the contract the Crown may, at any time and for any reason, cancel the contract". Minister Mark Burton has not acquitted himself well at any time through the turmoil that has wracked the New Zealand military. That's why he has been dubbed, "A waste of rations".

He has a chance to atone. Cancel the LAV III purchase - or at the very least reduce the numbers - and equip our military properly and well for the tasks that they have at hand.

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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