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National's tactics deplorable

30 August 2001 Media Statement

National's tactics deplorable

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton said he is appalled that the National Party is trying to destroy the public's faith in our defence forces.

"National has encouraged the leaking of documents and is undermining this government's efforts to clean up a legacy of problems that resulted from a decade of underfunding and competition for scarce resources.

"Now Jenny Shipley is trying to draw an enormously long bow between a misguided letter written four and a half years ago, and the way a military training branch is staffed.

"The Military Studies Institute based at Trentham is a unit of the New Zealand Army. It provides appropriate educational opportunities to personnel from throughout the New Zealand Defence Force.

"In April 1998, Major General (retired) Piers Reid was employed in two part-time positions: one with the Officer Cadet School, and the other as Executive Director of the Military Studies Institute. Both positions required specialist military expertise, which was only available from a senior retired officer.

"By October 1999, the job overseeing programme development at the Officer Cadet School had finished. In December 1999, Piers Reid resigned from the position at the Military Studies Institute, for personal reasons.

"Some months later, Piers Reid was employed by Massey University in Palmerston North. He works for the Centre for Defence Studies, which is an autonomous centre within the School of History, Philosophy and Politics.

"The New Zealand Defence Force purchases some teaching services from the Centre and provides a study fund. These arrangements are perfectly legitimate. They are, I note, operational arrangements made appropriately by the Chief of Defence Force.

"With the outstanding job our defence force personnel are doing in a dozen deployments including East Timor and Bouganville, public support for the armed forces has never been stronger," Mark Burton said.

"National – for cheap political reasons – is trying to destroy that support."

ENDS

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