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PM Telling Porkies On F16 Money

The Prime Minister is telling absolute and extreme porkies when she says that the money never existed for the purchase of the F16 aircraft, former Defence Minister Max Bradford said today.

"Miss Clark seems to not understand the rules by which the Treasury approve and account for capital expenditure.

"The situation is quite clear and always has been. National approved all the funding for the F16's at the time the decision to lease was made last year, and that is all spelt out in Treasury and Cabinet papers at the time.

"The Treasury's own accounting rules do not allow for the Government to allocate the capital funding until it is needed. It was quite clear though, that Government approval was given for the whole expenditure and capital injections would be made when required.

"The simple fact is that the National Government had a clear intention to provide for a $663 million capital injection at the time of the 1996 defence assessment. This provision, plus the sale of surplus assets, such as surplus defence real estate, were expected to provide well over $1 billion for capital funding for the army (about $500 million) and funds for replacement of Skyhawks and C130 aircraft.

"The money is, and was always, there for the lease of the F16's and for the Prime Minister to try and now say that these funds never existed is just a lie. National followed to the letter government accounting rules - rules the Prime Minister is clearly not familiar with.

"She will need to come up with a better excuse for downgrading New Zealand's defence capability, and our relationship with other countries in the region, than telling lies about the last Government. It simply won't wash," Mr Bradford said.

Ends

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