Brownlee denies on-the-hoof plan to sell ships

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee (Simon Wong / Newshub.)
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee (Simon Wong / Newshub.)

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is being accused of making up plans on the spot to sell two of the Navy's disused inshore patrol vessels.

He made the comments last month when Newshub probed him over why HMNZS Taupo and HMNZS Pukaki has not been to sea in years.

Brownlee denies on-the-hoof plan to sell ships


At the time he said they were surplus to requirements, will be sold under his watch, and should never have been purchased in the first place.

But while Mr Brownlee was announcing the sell-off publicly, there is nothing official showing he's told the Finance Minister about the plans so it's included in the upcoming Budget.

Brownlee denies on-the-hoof plan to sell ships


In a written Parliamentary question to Bill English, New Zealand First asked for all correspondence presented by Mr Brownlee for his defence Budget allocation, specifically on the disposal of HMNZS Taupo and Pukaki.

Mr English replied: "I have not received any correspondence on this matter".

New Zealand First defence spokesman Ron Mark says it's proof Mr Brownlee made up the sell-off policy on the hoof.

"Minister Brownlee hasn't sent a single email, letter, memo, report, or even offered Mr English a briefing on his idea to sell HMNZS Taupo and Pukaki.

"If the Minister of Defence has been advocating for defence then it's obviously not been with the guy who holds the purse strings," he says.

Mr Brownlee rejects the claims entirely, saying it has been in the pipeline for years.

"You have to start with an idea and you socialise it throughout government. There's nothing unusual about that.

"The process for disposal of military equipment is not a wake in the morning and say 'right, we're flicking that, go and put an ad in the paper," he says.

He says the process will take some time, which will include the Government deciding whether they actually belong in the Defence Force.

"Then you'd enter into a disposal that would see you try and identify potential purchases and make those approaches. Of course Treasury would be involved in that process."

He says work is in the "early stages" and they're still figuring out where they'd best be disposed of and what they could sell it for.