Launch of the Defence White Paper 2010

  • Wayne Mapp

Can I join in extending the thanks and appreciation of the Government to Secretary of Defence, John McKinnon, who has led the entire defence review process. He and his team, especially Deputy Secretary (Policy) Dr Brook Barrington, have done an excellent and thorough job.

Can I also acknowledge the Chief of Defence Force, Lt General Jerry Mateparae. A review of this nature is complicated. He has ensured the NZDF has participated at every level. There is real enthusiasm to get on with the job.

A White Paper has to balance the strategic realities with the economic practicalities. Unless we are honest and realistic about the world we live in, and the priorities we have as a nation, a defence review cannot succeed.

The White Paper sets out our assessment of the strategic environment over the next 20 years. In the 13 years since the last White Paper there have been immense changes in the global economic and security landscape. The next 25 years will see that rate of change continue. This is especially true of our region, the Asia Pacific, where the balance of power is changing.

However, it is also clear to all the nations in the Asia Pacific that the prosperity of the region has been built on stability and security. The increasing high level dialogue, including last week's East Asia Summit and the ADMM+ Defence Ministers meeting in October, both in Hanoi, are witness to this.

There are challenges, but also a willingness to deal with them constructively.

One of the key lessons of the last decade has been the tempo of operations. New Zealand has been actively engaged in dealing with state stability, and with the effects of terrorism. New Zealand has always been, and will continue to be, engaged in security issues beyond our borders. The White Paper recognises this.

This means that the NZDF must be able to effectively meet the security challenges of the region. The White Paper sets out a plan to progressively enhance capability, and to be able to replace core capabilities in a planned way over the next 20 years.

The NZDF needs to be able to take the lead, typically in concert with Australia, in the South Pacific region. This is what both New Zealanders, and our regional neighbours, expect.

We also play an effective role in the broader Asia Pacific region. This is one of the measures of being a valued regional partner. In the global context, we have a menu of highly professional capabilities that we can put alongside the contributions from our defence partners.

We cannot ignore the wider economic environment. In common with other parts of government, we have to use our resources more effectively. Dr Roderick Deane was engaged on a Value for Money project. The plan is to reprioritise resources from the back to the front. This is necessary due to the increased cost that comes from introducing the new and upgraded capabilities, including $900 million worth of new helicopters, $500 million of new ships, and $600 million of upgraded Hercules and Orion aircraft.

The NZDF is already taking this path. The current Defence Transformation Plan has already reprioritised $100 million. The Value for Money project will identify a further $250 million (around 10% of the Defence budget) to be reprioritised over the next five years.

This will involve innovative changes in how the NZDF is led, and changes to the management of personnel, bases and other infrastructure.

We will be looking at consolidating the Central North Island Defence ‘hub' at Ohakea. This will include moving Linton and reducing the permanent personnel at Waiouru. We will also look at other bases, such as Woodbourne and Trentham.

Much of the infrastructure is run down and does not meet current requirements. The costs in maintenance are high. We will be looking for new public/private partnerships to provide efficient facilities that will save money in the long term.

People are our most important asset. We want to ensure that uniformed personnel can concentrate on core military tasks. To achieve this, we will be looking at civilianising many second and third-line jobs. These jobs include maintenance, logistics, planning and support.

We will also be far more flexible in how we manage our people. There will be increased opportunity to transition between uniformed and civilianised roles - and back again.

What does this mean in practice?

It means support roles, such as human resources, IT and admin roles. Quite a lot has already been planned including photographers and some maintenance roles.

It means having more jobs done on a tri-service basis, rather than being duplicated across individual services.

The result will be an ability to build longer term expertise in areas such as acquisition programmes and through life support, without rotating personnel in and out of roles.

This will also include reshaping the Reserves so they have a more integrated role in the NZDF.

The White Paper contains more detail on these and other priorities.

In conclusion, today marks the start of a new era.

The White Paper is a comprehensive policy statement, and sets the blueprint for the next 20 years.

The time for reviewing is now over. The time for implementation has started. I thank everyone that has been involved in this process, and look forward to working with you all to realise the vision contained in this document.