National is accusing Defence Minister Ron Mark of misusing his position by using the Air Force as a taxi service and getting helicopter rides to his home in the Wairarapa.
Former Defence Minister and National defence spokesman Mark Mitchell says
official information shows Air Force NH-90 helicopters and a B200 King Air aircraft have repeatedly been diverted to Mark's hometown, Masterton, "apparently to ferry the minister from his home to events around the country and back again."
Mitchell said the flights were happening so often that locals were asking questions about it.
"There is no Royal New Zealand Air Force base in Masterton, which suggests the aircraft are being sent from Ohakea Air Base for the minister's personal convenience," said Mitchell.
"Mr Mark has even used an NH90 to travel from Masterton to Waiouru and back in the same day – a three hour trip each way by car.
"Why did he not save the taxpayer the cost and the NZDF the time and use a much cheaper Crown car instead? It's happening so regularly locals are asking questions about it."
At a time when the Defence Force was being asked to do more than ever and also being asked to tighten its belt, it was appalling that the Minister of Defence was using the Air Force as a personal taxi service.
"I want to know why the minister has either requested this service, or refused to decline it, as he would have known there is no way the flying hours, fuel and cost could be justified.
"This is an incredibly inappropriate use of Defence resources."
Mark and the Defence Force have been asked to comment.