Defence has spent $360m on ageing aircraft fleet in 10 years

Ageing Hercules and Orion Air Force planes are proving costly for the Defence Force.

The Defence Force has spent around $360 million on maintenance and repairs over the past 10 years, twice as much as in the previous decade, official figures show.

In 2008, keeping the planes fit for purpose cost about $24m. Two years ago the cost spiked over $50m, and this year the bill is more than $43m.

Defence bought its five Hercules and six Orions in the 1960s and all are coming to the end of their operational lives.

Official documents show the Orions had five engine failures over 15 days last year because of propeller malfunctions.

The Hercules also had propeller leaks and faulty oil gauges.

Replacing the aircraft would be costly and Defence Minister Ron Mark has accused the previous government of putting off the decision.

David Capie from the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University said successive governments had known that the capabilities needed to be replaced and updated.

"But the replacements are all so expensive - an eye watering amount of money - so I think there has been a tendency to think that this is a can that can be kicked down the road," he said.

Documents released under the Official Information Act documents reinforce the risk of keeping the old fleet.

The papers said: "The operation of aircraft that are in excess of 50 years old will result in an increase in unexpected maintenance action. This comes at an increasing cost to support through obsolescence and increased risk to mission success."

National had promised a $20 billion upgrade of the armed forces - but when Mr Mark took charge of the Defence portfolio last year he said there was no hard cash to back that up.

Mr Mark has criticised National for the failure to get new equipment, but National's defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell said the moves were under way to replace the old Orions with with Boeing P8 Poseidon aircraft when his party was in power.

"The fact of the matter is as the minister I already had the process well underway in terms of the procurement on the P8s.

"It's actually this government and this minister that's kicking the can down the road.

"They should have made a decision at least by April or May this year," he said.

He said Mr Mark had put on the brakes by launching a number of reviews.

David Capie said Defence was a portfolio that was highly political and not necessarily a vote winner.

"Most New Zealand political parties probably calculate there's not a lot of votes in the lead-up to elections that can be made in the defence sector but at some point there needs to be some hard decisions made about replacing and investing in these capabilities."

Mr Mark said he would have to make a decision before the end of July whether to replace the Orions with the Boeing P8 Poseidon.

In the meantime, he said officials had reassured him the old planes were safe to fly.

-By Jonathan Mitchell

Orion plane.
Orion plane (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS



Jacinda Ardern outlines Government's top 12 priorities for New Zealand over next 30 years

The Prime Minister has announced 12 priorities as part of a 30-year plan that will be a focus of the Government's ongoing work.

Jacinda Ardern outlined the plan during a speech in Auckland today.

"The Coalition Government’s long-term plan is a blueprint which sets out our priorities and the steps we are taking to build a more modern and fairer New Zealand that we can all be proud of," says Ms Ardern.

"This plan represents our shared vision and priorities; Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens. It establishes the foundation for the Government’s work and includes issues of particular importance to each of the parties which are supported by all of them.

"Our Government has a firm eye on the future. That's why our plan is looking 30 years ahead, not just three."

The Government's 12 priorities are: 

- To grow and share more fairly New Zealand's prosperity

- Supporting thriving and sustainable regions

- Transitioning to a clean, green carbon neutral New Zealand

- Delivering responsible government with a broader measure of success

- Ensuring that everyone is either earning, learning, caring or volunteering

- Supporting healthier, safer and more connected communities

- Ensuring everyone has a warm, dry home

- Making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child

- Committing to deliver transparent, transformative, and compassionate government

- Building closer partnerships with Māori

- Valuing who we are as a country

- Creating an international reputation we can be proud of

The Prime Minister gave details of the Government plan during a speech in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS


SH1 Desert Road closed after stock truck rolls

Part of the North Island's Desert Road  (SH1) has been closed after a stock truck rolled today.

Emergency services were called to the scene near Paradise Valley Road at 1.10pm.

The truck driver was uninjured following the incident but cattle are on the road.

A vet is in attendance to attend to the animals.

Diversions are in place and motorists have been asked to avoid the area and delay travel if possible.

The road is expected to closed for some time while the scene is cleared.

A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS

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Canterbury engineer hopes to quake-proof buildings with old tyres

A University of Canterbury team is a million dollars closer to its goal of developing quake-proof building foundations from old tyres.

The money from the Endeavour Fund, administered by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, will go to researching new foundation systems for low-rise homes and buildings.

The project's science leader said waste tyres were an affordable source of building materials that could be adapted for wider use.

Gabriele Chiaro, a senior engineering lecturer at Canterbury University, said 3.5 million used tyres were sent to landfills or dumped each year in New Zealand.

"This gives rise to stockpiles of tyres that cause enormous environmental issues."

Mr Chiaro and his team planned to use them to create what was described as an "eco-rubber, seismic-isolation foundation system" for buildings throughout the country.

It is a system that filters the energy of an earthquake by combining two critical elements: A rubber-gravel mixture that disperses seismic shock waves and a flexible "raft" foundation made of steel fibre-reinforced rubberised concrete, that does not crack like regular concrete.

The system would not only absorb the shock, but also prevent damage, Mr Chiaro said.

There were similar studies elsewhere in the world, but mainly in countries that did not have the same earthquake risk.

"In New Zealand we are trying to assess the problem of tyre waste management, and by doing so we are also able to minimise the seismic damage for medium-density, low-height residential buildings."

He said the development was aimed for use in housing developments, which was where a gap existed in earthquake strengthening, but the technology could also be used in small-scale commercial developments.

Mr Chiaro said preliminary studies were done in 2015, which revealed the potential for development. A prototype could be ready within two years before laboratory testing was done, and field trials could be expected within five years.

"After than, we anticipate that in 10 years' time this foundation will be used in most of the buildings built in New Zealand."

Mr Chiaro did not think it would be hard convincing regulatory authorities of its merits, provided it was affordable and resilient.

The $1m Endeavour Fund is New Zealand's largest contestable research fund, aimed at ambitious research projects to improve the lives of New Zealanders.

Mr Chiaro expected the project to attract interest.

"There is potential for great collaboration with Japan and the USA, with whom we already have a connection, and also with Europe."

By Tracy Neal

rnz.co.nz

Gabriele Chiaro, a senior engineering lecturer at Canterbury University, said 3.5 million used tyres were sent to landfills or dumped each year in New Zealand.
Gabriele Chiaro, a senior engineering lecturer at Canterbury University, said 3.5 million used tyres were sent to landfills or dumped each year in New Zealand. Source: University of Canterbury


Man charged with murder after fatal stabbing of woman, 28, in Christchurch

A man has been charged with murder following last night's fatal stabbing of a woman, 28, on Ilam Road, Christchurch.

Police say the man, 52, has also been charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He remains in Christchurch Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Another man, a 31-year-old, remains in Christchurch Hospital in a serious but stable condition after the incident.

Police have confirmed to media today that 52-year-old man turned the knife on himself, Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Anderson said.

Police say although the investigation is still in its early days those involved were known to each other and Police are not seeking anyone else over the incident.

Police say although the investigation is still in its early days those involved were known to each other and Police are not seeking anyone else over the incident.

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Detective Inspector Scott Anderson spoke about the incident on Ilam Road. Source: 1 NEWS