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Defence Minister Announces Inquiry Package

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton has today confirmed a package of reviews and inquiries into defence operations and relationships.

"Full details will be announced following sign-off by Cabinet," Mark Burton said.

"However, I can say that the package will include three components.

"There will be a comprehensive review of relationships and accountabilities between the Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force. There will also be inquiries into specific allegations that have been raised, and into wider issues around the leaking of documents and information.

"Each of these processes will be structured to ensure we get the fullest possible disclosure of information, and in the most timely manner.

"I have consulted widely this week, with the Chief of Defence Force, Crown Law, the Auditor General, the State Services Commissioner and others. I make no apology for taking a few days to ensure that we put in place the best processes to clearly identify not only the problems, but also potential solutions.

"The major review of accountabilities and structural arrangements was foreshadowed in the government's Defence Policy Framework, released in June 2000. It follows changes that we have already made at an operational level, with the establishment of Joint Force Operational Headquarters at Trentham.

"The review will cover questions such as: the consequences of the 1990 split into two organisations - MOD and NZDF; the balance of responsibilities between the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force; options for better coordination of policy advice; issues of dysfunctionality as raised in the recent Auditor-General's report; and how we can develop appropriate Select Committee involvement in a more transparent defence planning and capital acquisitions process.

"Among the issues to be addressed by the two inquiries will be a letter written by an army officer in March 1997, an e-mail circulated to naval staff in March 2001, the theft of papers from Defence Headquarters, and the inappropriate use of information and position.

"All of this matters - some historical and some current - are potentially serious," Mark Burton said.

"I am having to deal with the consequences of a decade of neglect, during which the Navy, Airforce and Army were forced to compete for ever-reducing defence resources. Successive National Defence ministers contributed to the creation of this unhealthy and dysfunctional climate.

"This government is intent on building a highly professional, well equipped modern defence force. We have some of the very best men and women in the world serving New Zealand in our defence forces. We are determined to put the most appropriate structures in place that allow them to do their job, and to ensure that any past problems are identified and eliminated.

"However, I want to be very clear. Inappropriate conduct by a few will not be tolerated - it has to stop," Mark Burton said.

Ends


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