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Minister supports actions by CDF

14 May 2002

Defence Minister Mark Burton said today that he fully supports the Chief of Defence Force and the actions he has taken to ensure that the misguided views of a few individuals do not harm the professional reputation of the New Zealand Defence Force.

"Air Marshal Ferguson has issued a very strong message and it is one I fully endorse," Mark Burton said.

"While the report by Colin Curruthers QC has found that the "Gordon letter" was not acted upon and did not form part of official Army policy, I do share CDF's concern that attitudes held by a small group of officers have caused disharmony within Army, and between the Services. That is absolutely unacceptable."

Mark Burton said that he and the Chief of Defence Force met earlier this afternoon with MP Ron Mark, to brief him on the outcome of the investigation into the accessing of his military file.

"While CDF has concluded that evidence does not show that a military offence was committed, he has found that accessing of the file was clearly inappropriate. CDF has issued Mr Mark with an unreserved apology. Obviously this does not preclude Mr Mark from considering actions in other forums.

"This incident has raised a wider issue. In my view, every file held and controlled by NZDF must be managed with full recognition of the need to protect the rights and privacy of individuals. This is a matter that CDF will be giving urgent further consideration to."

Mark Burton said the government's future expectations for the New Zealand Defence Force were clear.

"Upon his appointment, I directed Air Marshal Ferguson and his new leadership team to address a number of operational, management and behavioural matters. He has taken immediate steps to do so.

"The public of New Zealand can have confidence that the Defence Force is a united, professional and well-led entity," Mark Burton said.

Ends

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