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Assurance wanted over new helicopters

John Carter
National Party Defence Spokesman
31 March 2004

Assurance wanted over new helicopters

National’s Defence spokesman, John Carter, says the Defence Minister should give an assurance to taxpayers that the processes surrounding the buying of new helicopters for the Air Force are more robust that his previous shopping sprees.

He is commenting on an announcement by Defence Minister Mark Burton that the Defence Force is to replace its ageing Iroquois with NH Industries' NH90 helicopters. Discussions will now focus on cost finalisation, numbers to be purchased and delivery availability.

“Labour has a bad record when it comes to buying equipment for our armed forces:

- The damning report by the Auditor-General on the LAVs.

- Issues around the allocating of the Protector contract.

- Maintenance issues with the Pinzgauers, which has seen payments to the manufacturer suspended.

“With a record like that I believe it is fair to ask the Minister to give us assurances that the procurement process for these helicopters has been carried out in a far better manner than any of his previous efforts.

“We don’t want to find out further down the track that we are stuck with something that is altogether too expensive for what we want, that they start falling out of the air, or that they are simply too big for our needs.”

Ends

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