$100m here, a $100m there…meh says Brownlee

Big Gerry Brownlee seems quite flippant about a serious budget blowout of more than $100m.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has defended a $100 million blowout in the cost to upgrade the navy’s two frigates.

The Defence Force is in the process of upgrading the combat management systems, radars and sensors, and replacing the self-defence missile systems, on both the HMNZS Te Kaha and the HMNZS Te Mana.

It was originally budgeted to cost between $354m and $374m, but Labour MP Phil Goff says it’s now expected to cost close to $473m.

Mr Goff also said the upgrade work won’t now be completed until March 2019 – 13 months later than planned.

He sought an explanation from Mr Brownlee when he fronted up to Parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee on Thursday.  

“How do you explain any cost blowout? It’s what it costs to get what you want,” Mr Brownlee said.

Despite the fact Treasury has raised concerns about the project, the Government is committed to pressing ahead with it, he said.

“It won’t matter how many times Treasury gets upset about the expenditure on something that they don’t agree with, they don’t put their name on a ballot paper, they don’t stand on street corners talking to constituents, they don’t have a responsibility for the security of New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee said.

“It’s a capability the Government wants, it’s the capability the Government’s paying for, it’s a capability we’re going to get.”

$100m is quite the blowout.

The real problem here is that these weapon systems need to be upgraded and that costs money, but it seems there is no proper project management or budget oversight. What ever happened to fixed-price contracts?

No vendor would get away with that size blowout in the private sector so why should we tolerate it in the public sector?


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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