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Minister AWOL on veterans' affairs

Katherine Rich National Party MP

06 May 2005

Minister AWOL on veterans' affairs

Dunedin-based National MP Katherine Rich says George Hawkins has added further salt to veterans' wounds by describing Montecillo War Veterans Home and Hospital as a 'private rest home' implying it is no different to any other.

"Former Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser, who made commitments to the returned WW2 soldiers, will be turning in his grave now a Labour Veterans' Affairs Minister is washing his hands of the plight of New Zealand's World War Two vets."

National has promised to advance the home $2 million interest free to rebuild Montecillo, to be returned to the taxpayer when the last World War Two veteran has no further use for it.

"To call Montecillo a 'private resthome' is a calculated snub. That's simply not the way Montecillo, the RSA or the people of Dunedin see the facility.

"I hope this doesn't mean that because Oamaru Hospital is in a trust that it's seen by the Government as a 'private' hospital too.

"Veterans Affairs Minister George Hawkins is fast becoming the lousiest advocate for veterans they've ever had. He is more than happy to be a kingpin at public commemorations but when it comes to honouring the contributions of our WW2 vets, he's AWOL," says Mrs Rich.

"George Hawkins continues to show his ignorance of southern issues. Remember this is the man that thought that Alexandra's policing woes could be compared to those of Stewart Island!"

ENDS

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