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Proposed Defence restructure sinister

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesperson

24 August 2001

Proposed Defence restructure sinister

The Prime Minister's proposal to restructure the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force is sinister, National's Defence spokesperson Max Bradford said today.

"Helen Clark's proposal smacks of diversionary tactics to shift the blame for the armoured personnel carriers and light operational vehicle debacle from the army to the Ministry and the Government's own chief military advisor, the Chief of Defence.

"There are increasing signs of an unhealthy and politically-motivated link between the Labour Government and certain top army officers.

"Given that political link, Ms Clark's unspoken intention to shift accountability for the shambles from the army to someone else, and then put the army in charge of the merged department is the equivalent of putting a fox in charge of a chicken coop.

"What's more, it is regrettable that a former Chief of General Staff, who was in office when many of the unsatisfactory events took place, has chosen to say there are no problems with the army, and has instead accused the Ministry of Defence, as has the Prime Minister.

"Piers Reid is Personnel Director of the military services institute at Massey University, which is substantially funded by the army. Therefore one must question the independence of his comments.

"There were no problems with the management of the Ministry of Defence over complex and major defence projects such as the ANZAC frigates, the new naval helicopters and the rewinging of the Orions. The problems are only with major army projects. It is blatantly clear, as the Auditor General said, that the problems are with the army, no one else.

"The Prime Minister and the Ministry of Defence are going down a very dangerous path. It has the odour of a politically-motivated cover up," Mr Bradford said.

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