Clark Gets It Wrong - Again

  • Max Bradford

Defence Minister Max Bradford said tonight Labour leader Helen Clark had got it wrong again with her so-called revelations that he had flown to Canberra on Sunday to brief his Australian counterpart on options for a frigate purchase.

"Ms Clark's claims today are yet another example of a desperate Opposition inventing the facts," Mr Bradford said. "The facts are that I was I was in Wellington all Sunday, having flown back from Rotorua early that morning after attending Sir Charles Bennett's tangi on Saturday. That was on national TV news and all afternoon on Radio New Zealand.

"The previous weekend I flew to Australia to meet Australian Defence Minister John Moore, and his senior defence officials, to discuss a variety of military issues, including Australia's proposal for New Zealand to buy one of their ANZAC frigates - the brand new HMAS Arunta.

"There is nothing to 'reveal' about this, as anyone with an ounce of common sense would realise such an offer had to be discussed on a Government-to-Government level. They would also know that at yesterday's press conference, I made it quite clear that proposals to Cabinet on Monday included consideration of purchasing HMAS Arunta.

"How many times does Ms Clark have to be told that Cabinet made its decisions on Monday, these were endorsed by a majority of MPs on Tuesday, and then announced publicly."

Mr Bradford said he had advised Mr Moore by phone of the Government's decisions yesterday afternoon, after endorsement by a majority of MPs.

"To make claims about 'secret missions' on Sunday to give the Australians reason to believe the frigate purchase would proceed is just pure nonsense."