Defence Minister’s aircraft travel called ‘inappropriate’

The AM Show 16/03/2018

National MP Mark Mitchell isn't backing down on his criticism of Defence Minister Ron Mark's use of military vehicles for transport.

Mr Mitchell, a former Defence Minister, was tipped off about Mr Mark's alleged use of the Air Force as his very own "taxi service".

“It is a complete inappropriate use of defence assets, without a doubt,” Mr Mitchell told The AM Show.

Documents released under the Official Information Act earlier this week showed the Defence Minister had been picked up and dropped off from Masterton while attending engagements. 

...Not in a million years would I consider asking them to do that.

Mr Mark has threatened to release 10 years' worth of aircraft records, saying he's been told there is some "interesting stuff in there".

"Let's put it out in the media, and let's hope Mr Mitchell isn't embarrassed."

Mr Mitchell says he won't be.

"When I was minister, I had Dairy Flat airfield, which was literally two minutes form my home. There was probably two occasions where I could have said, 'Can you just pop over the hill from Whenuapai, land at Dairy Flat and pick me up there?

"But not in a million years would I consider asking them to do that, and had they offered, I would have declined... they're not an Uber service for ministers."

High-ranking Labour MP Phil Twyford told The AM Show the Defence Force wouldn't be offering to ferry MPs around if it wasn't appropriate.

"Ron wasn't going shopping, he was on business. He was doing his job," Mr Twyford told The AM Show.

But Mr Mitchell said MPs need to understand not every Defence Force offer of a ride should be accepted.

"NZDF will bend over backwards to support the minister - that's the way they operate."

Watch the full interview with Mark Mitchell above. 

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