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'I wouldn't in a million years' – National criticises Ron Mark's NZDF aircraft use

National say Defence Minister Ron Mark inappropriately used a military aircraft to travel and from his home to official engagements.

Former Defence Force Minister Mark Mitchell said Mr Mark shouldn't be using that kind of defence asset to fly over to the Waiarapa, "just because it's a bit more convenient for him". 

He said he accepted the assets were used for official defence force, but Mr Mitchell said he "wouldn't in a million years... ask them to pick me up because it was more convenient for me, had they offered I would have declined".

Mr Mark thought it would only be acceptable for the Prime Minister, "and at a stretch" the deputy PM to use the same kind of assets. 

Ron Mark says he was flying to official engagements. Source: 1 NEWS

"I would hate to see any government decide that Ministers would just use defence assets and personnel as an Uber service just because they happen to be out doing some training

Yesterday, Mr Mark defended using military aircraft to get to and from home.

Mr Mark provided 1 NEWS with a list of all the New Zealand Defence Force flights he has taken to and from Masterton.

A spokesman said it's cheaper for him to take the flights than take Crown car to Defence Force airports. He said he has also declined to take some flights because of "the optics".

In October Mr Mark hopped on a B200 flight from his home to Woodbourne airbase - and then flew back again - as part of an official visit to watch a military exercise.

Ms Martin made the quip on the Chatham Islands before the Defence Minister came under fire for his use of military aircraft. Source: 1 NEWS

And then in December he flew to and from Masterton to Waiouru to watch a military graduation on an NH90 helicopter.

"As Minister of Defence I'm acutely aware of perception when taking NZDF flights. I am making available a list of the flights I have taken, " Mr Mark said in a statement.

"Each of the flights was taken to an official engagement. For two of the seven commitments I embarked and disembarked in Masterton. I live in Carterton. 

"Please note one of these flights was a regular scheduled flight that would have departed with, or without me. 

"On several occasions I have declined NZDF's offer of transport. 

"I wish to emphasise that none of these flights was for personal use. Please note that on a number of these flights I have been accompanied by NZDF officials, MPs from other parties, and/or media representatives. If at any point the Defence Force advises me that such travel is inappropriate or outside policy then I would naturally comply."

National's Mark Mitchell said it would only be acceptable for the Prime Minister, "and at a stretch" the deputy PM to use the same kind of assets. Source: Breakfast


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