An inquiry into the allegations raised in the book Hit and Run undermines our Defence Force, risks New Zealand’s relationship with its defence allies and is ultimately an expensive waste of tax-payer money, National’s Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The Government needs to be very clear about what has influenced it to launch an Inquiry.
“I was alarmed to hear the Attorney General say that ‘continuing controversy’ around the Operation has played a role in his decision. This suggests he has been swayed by a vocal lobby, instead of the facts,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Two of the National Government’s Defence Ministers and the former Prime Minister have already reviewed New Zealand Defence Force evidence of what led to, and occurred, during Operation Burnham in the Baghlan province in Afghanistan.
“Much of it was highly classified and some of it was provided by our international partners in a mark of respect to the NZDF and the New Zealand Government. There was no requirement for them to share this information.
“The evidence shows the basis for the operation met all legal requirements and that it was conducted with the highest level of professionalism.
“Based on the evidence we saw in Government, and the responses to our questions, this Inquiry is unwarranted.
“This was not a political position that we took. Rather, as Ministers of the Crown we acted on the basis of extensive advice and briefings from NZDF who made the same commitments to us as they did publicly.
“Assuming the NZDF has shown this Government the same information they shared with us, I cannot see a basis for an inquiry.
“It will only be a distraction to our Defence Forces at a time when the Government is asking them to engage in major deployments around the world in theaters that present the same risks and challenges that Afghanistan did,” Mr Mitchell says.