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Labour must release Skyhawk sale papers

12 September 2005

John Carter National Party Defence Spokesman

Labour must release Skyhawk sale papers

National's Defence spokesman, John Carter, says Labour should release all the papers concerning the sale of the Air Force strike wing.

"This is a deal that was announced six days before the general election in a secret squirrel deal, and I would expect all the details to be made public.

"All we know at this stage is that this has been a very expensive blunder by Labour.

"We know, from what Mark Burton has said, that $35 million of the $155 million sale price will go to regenerating and shipping the Skyhawks and Aermacchis.

"But what we don't know is what Ernst and Young are being paid as a 'bonus' for finally making the sale.

"We know they have already been paid $400,000 as an initial fee for trying to sell the aircraft, and about $700,000 in disbursements over the past four years.

"I will be very interested to see how much taxpayer money Labour has coughed up in the form of a bonus.

"It has taken Ernst and Young more than four years to sell these aircraft, during which time storage costs have totalled nearly $7 million, so I would expect any bonus would reflect that.

"National will make sure taxpayers are not being taken for a ride.

"Quite apart from the huge cost of this whole sad episode, Labour is responsible for wrecking a once-proud Air Force and forcing our highly trained pilots and engineers overseas," says Mr Carter.

ENDS


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