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Labour Fingerprints Wiped From Defence Report

Labour Fingerprints Wiped From Defence Report

New Zealand First has accused Labour of deliberately delaying and politically cleansing the Hunn review of the working relationship between the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force.

Defence spokesperson Ron Mark says the timeline of the review is disturbing because it reveals long periods of delay, designed to conceal Labour’s previous political involvement with senior Army officers.

This review was reluctantly ordered by the Defence Minister in August/September 2001 as a result of serious problems in the Defence Forces while Labour was being publicly implicated in the politicisation of the Army. It took the Minister until 19 October 2001 to finalise the terms of reference. An “interim” report was presented to the Minister on 22 December 2001 for his “examination”. A “working draft” of the “final report” was provided to the Minister for his “consideration” on 28 March 2002. It took until May 2002 for the “draft executive summary” to be “finalised”. The “report” was completed on 30 September 2002 but has only now been publicly released (26 March 2003).

“The timeline clearly shows that the Minister has interfered with the reporting process in order to wipe clean all traces of the Labour Party’s fingerprints.

“Everyone knows that the Labour Party was inappropriately involved with certain senior Army officers leading up to the 1999 election. The actions of those officers resulted in a dysfunctional Defence Force which ultimately cost New Zealand its air combat wing.”

Mr Mark, a former Army officer, said he was also concerned that the report did not include the results of the investigation into the accessing of his confidential Army records.

“It is disappointing that Mr Hunn was prevented from addressing questions of accountability for failures and whether these had arisen from system weakness or individual action or inaction.”

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