NZ Army caught up in leaky uni­form saga

Central Leader - - SCHOOL’S OUT - STAFF RE­PORTER

The New Zealand De­fence Force says it needs more time to an­swer ques­tions about leaky rain jack­ets that were al­legedly sup­plied to sol­diers a few years ago.

Aus­tralian socks and jocks maker Pa­cific Brands sold a ship­ment of leak­ing rain jack­ets to the New Zealand De­fence Force (NZDF) and then left Perth-based com­pany Wes­farm­ers to cover the A$2.5 mil­lion (NZ$2.6m) cost of re­plac­ing them.

That’s ac­cord­ing to a state­ment of claim Wes­farm­ers has filed in the New South Wales Fed­eral Court in Aus­tralia, in an at­tempt by the re­tail con­glom­er­ate to claw some of that money back.

Wes­farm­ers said the NZDF bought the dodgy rain­coats some­time be­tween 2012 and 2014 from the Work­wear Group, a divi­sion of Pa­cific Brands – com­pany be­hind Bonds un­der­wear and Sheri­dan home­wares.

The NZDF ini­tially said it would not com­ment how long the rain jack­ets were in use, the prob­lems they caused, whether they were used dur­ing com­bat mis­sions.

A spokesman later said it would treat those ques­tions as an Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest and re­spond ’’as soon as pos­si­ble’’.

In June 2014 the NZDF con­tacted Pa­cific Brands three times to make ‘‘cor­rec­tive ac­tion re­ports’’, com­plain­ing that the jack­ets were ‘‘leak­ing’’ and that de­fence per­son­nel wear­ing them were get­ting wet, the Aus­tralian le­gal claim said.

Those com­plaints prompted Pa­cific Brands to test the jack­ets, which re­vealed they had leak points on the seams at the right hand chest, right hip and at the armpits, and were not fit for pur­pose.

Pa­cific Brands, which has since been ac­quired by Amer­i­can ap­parel giant Hanes­brands, sold the Work­wear busi­ness to Wes­farm­ers in 2014 for A$180m.

Wes­farm­ers said Pa­cific Brands did not dis­close the prob­lem with the NZDF’s wet weather gear, which breached an agree­ment they signed be­fore the sale that there were ‘‘no ma­te­rial claims or ma­te­rial po­ten­tial claims by a cus­tomer in re­la­tion to a safety or prod­uct is­sue’’.

Wes­farm­ers was left to ap­pease the NZDF by re­plac­ing their jack­ets with wa­ter­proof ones and dis­pos­ing the faulty gar­ments, which cost the com­pany A$2.5m.

Wes­farm­ers and Hanes­brands would not com­ment on the case.

MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

The NZDF con­tacted Pa­cific Brands three times to com­plain jack­ets were leak­ing.

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