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$7.8m to house grounded Skyhawks

$7.8m to house grounded Skyhawks

It is time the Government came clean about what is happening to the remnants of our once proud Air Force combat wing, says National's Defence spokesman Simon Power.

Mr Power says it is disgraceful that three years to the month after consultants were employed to sell the Skyhawks and Aermacchi jet trainers, the aircraft are still gathering dust in airport hangers.

"And the cost of letting them gather dust? $7.8 million and rising at the rate of $320,000 a month.

"And that doesn't account for the $400,000 fee, plus disbursements, for Ernst and Young to sell them, and the 'additional fee' they will receive when, and if, they are sold, depending on the final price.

"This is crazy. Defence Minister Mark Burton said six months ago that he expected the sale to be completed by the middle of this year.

"Well, it is the middle of the year and nothing has happened.

"Ernst and Young were contracted in June 2001, six months before the combat wing was decommissioned. Since then, both the company and the Defence Minister have confirmed 'very keen buyers' were lined up, including the Malaysian Government.

"But where are these buyers? Why is it that three years later we are still waiting for someone to write a cheque?

"The Government is strangely quiet on this. Its decision to disband the air strike capability of our Air Force without any clear idea of what to do with the aircraft is shameful," says Mr Power.

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