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Bursting The Skyhawk Bubble Heather Roy MP

Wednesday, August 13 2008

Bursting The Skyhawk Bubble Heather Roy MP

ACT Deputy Leader and National Security Spokesman Heather Roy today called on Defence Minister Phil Goff to launch an independent inquiry into the series of lost sale opportunities and questionable decisions by his Government around the maintenance of the Skyhawks at Woodbourne Air Base.

"It has come to my attention that water is seeping in and pooling under the white latex coating that was supposed to protect these aircraft from the elements and preserve them in a saleable condition," Mrs Roy said.

"When this occurs, it is someone's job to drain the water by piercing the bubble with a pin or some other cutting-edge piece of bubble-bursting technology - no doubt purchased out of the RNZAF's operational funding.

"Labour calls this 'ongoing maintenance'; what a joke. In February Mr Goff put the Skyhawks' value at $US35 million and, to date, the RNZAF has spent over $12 million - that should have gone on daily core functions and is in addition to the $94,000 cost of applying the latex - on maintaining these aircraft.

"Yet the current market value of the Skyhawks will be dropping daily - especially given the further damage that will have inevitably occurred in the recent bad weather experienced by the Marlborough region.

"Serious questions must be asked, and the Minister must take responsibility - both for the incompetence and mis-management of maintenance, and for the series of lost sale opportunities.

"Given Labour's practice of passing the buck, however, I predict Mr Goff will blame SafeAir - the contractor that applied the latex coatings. In that event Mr Goff, at the very least, must order an urgent inquiry into this issue if we are to have any hope of ever selling these aircraft," Mrs Roy said.


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