The Government has today committed to doing something Defence Minister Ron Mark and his NZ First colleagues criticised in Opposition – making compromise purchases of defence assets that weren’t built to do the jobs expected of them, National’s Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“This is a Government with a now proven fiscal hole and that is starting to impact the investments it makes, including long-overdue upgrades to Defence assets.
“The 85 metre Norwegian vessel Edda Fonn will come to the Royal New Zealand Navy already 15 years old. It is a survey and light construction ship, not the dive, hydrographic and mine clearance vessel approved for purchase in 2016.
“The Government will need to retrofit it at an as-yet unspecified further cost to taxpayers on top of the $103 million purchase price.
“The Edda Fonn is not the sort of Littoral Support Vessel the Defence Force made a strong business case for to replace the now retired vessels Resolution and Manawanui.
“Only last month the Defence Minister said there ‘had been too many examples in the past where procurement decisions have been the wrong decision, where we have taken a commercial option only to find that it doesn’t work there in the military role.
“He went on to say ‘In fact, some of them don’t even work in a civilian role. We’re not going to cut corners’.
“During that interview Mr Mark must have known that he was on the verge of signing off the purchase of a commercial survey and light construction vessel that was going to need to be expensively overhauled to turn it into the dive and hydrographic vessel the Navy needs.
“Mr Mark needs to explain how much this process will cost, and whether all the specifications in the business case approved in 2016 will be fitted to the Edda Fonn.
“If the converted ship cannot undertake all of the functions in that business case Mr Mark will have delivered a compromise solution of the sort he criticised in opposition.”