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Report conclusions warrant defence purchase review

Max Bradford

National Defence Spokesperson

15 May 2002

Carruthers report conclusions warrant defence purchase review

"The release of the Carruthers Report and the strong conclusions drawn by the Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Ferguson can only call into question the decisions made by the Government in 2000 to disband the air combat force and order 105 LAVs", says National's Defence spokesperson Max Bradford.

"The Government claimed it was acting on advice given to it at the time. It is now clear that much of the advice listened to was from the very senior officers in the Army who have been panned by the investigations and by Air Marshal Ferguson, the present CDF.

"The Carruthers Report and Air Marshal Ferguson's conclusions prove that there was a "failure of leadership at the highest level", and actions which lead to a campaign designed to favour the army at the expense of the Air Force and Navy.

"How can the New Zealand public be confident that advice taken by the Government from the head of the Army, subsequently found guilty of shredding documents and displaying "failure of leadership", be relied upon to make such fundamental change in the country's defence structure?

"National calls upon the Government to set aside advice given to it by the Army, and reconsider defence decisions to purchase LAVs and disband the air combat wing. Both these matters were part of the agenda of the small group criticised in the Carruthers Report and in Air Marshal Ferguson's comments.

"It is not too late to prevent an awful mistake which will affect the future of our defence forces for the next 10 years. These decisions were not seen as credible by defence analysts or by our key defence partners - the US, Australia and Singapore.

"Helen Clark needs to come back down to earth and accept that the seven investigations and inquiries into the Defence force have shown that there was rot at the core of the leadership of the army, and recommit her Government's defence decisions.

"The men and women of the NZDF, and the New Zealand public deserve it given the litany of highly questionable behaviour by some of the Army's most senior officers" said Mr Bradford.

Ends

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