3 Apr 2017

VIDEO: PM to make Afghan raid announcement

9:36 am on 3 April 2017

Prime Minister Bill English will make an announcement shortly on calls for an inquiry into an SAS raid on villagers in Afghanistan, he says.

The book Hit & Run claims six civilians died in raids on two villages in 2010 involving American helicopter gunships, Afghan forces and New Zealand soldiers.

Mr English told Morning Report's Susie Fergusion he would be discussing a report from the Defence Force with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee today and hoped to make an announcement in the next few days.

Watch the interview with Bill English:

Lawyers for the villagers and the book's authors have called for an inquiry, but Mr English said material presented publicly by the Chief of Defence Force had rebutted "pretty basic stuff" such as where the raids happened.

"Given the fundamental problems with the allegations, it's unlikely to be an inquiry into war crimes," Mr English said.

The possible timing of any inquiry, in the run up to the September election, was not a concern. "These are serious allegations - I don't think the election timing's got much bearing on it. We'll get the official CDF [Chief of Defence Force] advice today and consider it from there."

The Hit & Run authors, Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, said Defence Force claims they had the wrong village were "not true", but said they did get the exact location of the SAS raid wrong in their book.

Extra money for carers suggested

The prime minister also said carers of children in state care could be given more money under the newly launched Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

Mr English said the new ministry, which has taken over from Child Youth and Family, will receive about $300 million in the next few years and was likely to ask for more funding.

He was not not ruling out paying carers of children in state care more than the $200 per week they receive at the moment.

"We do ask an awful lot of the carers and many of them deal with the most complex children in our community," he said. The government would listen to views from the sector on whether extra money should go to carers or support services for carers.