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Hawkins must front up on security lapse

Tony Ryall National Police Spokesperson

30 December 2002

Hawkins must front up on security lapse

Police Minister, George Hawkins, must answer questions on why the police failed to secure video footage of three suspicious Middle Eastern men who enrolled in a Hamilton dive course, says National's Police spokesman Tony Ryall.

Security video footage of the men was lost because police delayed responding to a tip-off.

"It took the police over a month to follow up on information which was obviously suspicious - three Middle Eastern men trying to enrol in a dive course teaching the use of explosives, paying $8000 each for a course, then not turning up and not seeking a refund," says Mr Ryall.

"The Government has still not said who these people were - if it yet knows. We should remember that the last known terrorist attack here - the Rainbow Warrior - involved divers and explosives.

"Mr Hawkins and the Police Commissioner have been assuring Parliament for some time that the police were sufficiently resourced to respond to such events. Clearly they are not.

"This potential threat is exactly what happened with September 11. Concerns were raised about Middle Eastern men enrolling in flight schools in the United States, but little action was taken by the authorities.

"If someone did commit an act of terrorism with New Zealand-trained explosive skills, our country would be the target of fierce international criticism if it was discovered authorities were tipped-off.

"New Zealanders should be very concerned that our homeland security is in the hands of George Hawkins, a bumbling and incompetent Minister. He has to front up with answers.

"And the Government must clearly resource our police better to ensure this sort of slip-up doesn't happen again," says Mr Ryall.

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