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Burton: Australian Defence College Speech

Australian Defence College Speech

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to have the opportunity to address the Australian Defence College today. It is a pleasure to see you in New Zealand and I hope that you find your visit here enjoyable and beneficial. Today I want to talk about New Zealand's defence policy and our commitment to international security, and perhaps set straight a few myths about our take on defence.

Australia and New Zealand have a close defence relationship and long history of working together. We have a shared history of combat and sacrifice. We have worked, and still work, together to support peace initiatives in the region and globally.

Despite this there are still some commentators who believe New Zealand does not take security issues seriously. There are even some in the Australian press who have labelled New Zealand as not pulling its weight on the world stage.

I welcome the chance to talk to you today. Because of your professional experience you hold, I am confident, a better informed viewpoint.

New Zealand is a relatively small country. It is not, and never will be, a superpower or even a middle-power. When we became government at the end of 1999 we were faced with a defence force that had received little upgrade and renewal for over a decade.

Much of its equipment was outdated and reaching the end of its functional life, and there was no co-ordinated planning to do anything about it.

It was clear to us therefore, that we had to refocus defence policy, in light of what New Zealand's security needs were, and what part we wanted, and were able to play, in regional and global security.

We had to maximise our strengths, directing our resources to those areas in which we excel, and where we could make a real and credible contribution to international deployments.

The point is, we have made significant capability advances across the entire New Zealand Defence Force. In particular, this has included substantial investments in new ships for the Navy, upgraded aircraft and new helicopters for the Air Force and new equipment for the Army. Over recent years New Zealand has reshaped its defence Force to better fit our strategic reality. We have committed over 3 billion dollars towards major capital projects, and the Government has recently announced the Defence Sustainability Initiative, which is a 4.6 billion dollar capability rebuilding programme. The DSI as we call it, will provide the Defence Force with additional people, infrastructure, reserve stocks, and corporate planning capability. The additional money will eventually increase operating funding by 51%.

We are committed to building a modern, professional, well-equipped Defence Force that is sustainable, affordable, and appropriate to New Zealand's defence requirements. The key components of the NZDF are now: ·

A joint approach to structure and operational orientation
· A modernised Army
· An enhanced Navy fleet
· And a refocused and updated Air Force
. A key tool for achieving these modernisation goals has been our Long Term Development Plan, which is a comprehensive list of all planned acquisition projects with preliminary costings, timings, and priorities.
The LTDP enables decisions to be taken in the context of policy, priority, and affordability. We update that plan each year, as projects advance and priorities are re-evaluated.

Many of these projects have included substantial collaboration between New Zealand and Australia.

Since the Plan's release in 2002, 24 major re-equipment projects have been advanced.

We have updated the Army's communication equipment, and given effect to the policy of a motorised land force.

This has involved purchasing the Light Armoured Vehicles required for two battalions, and introducing the new Pinzgauer Light Operational Vehicle and Special Operational Vehicle fleets.

We are also moving forward with plans to acquire a Joint Command and Control System. This will strengthen our ability to work together with our security partners, and give us practical experience in network-enabled operations.

We have made a decision to acquire the Javelin Medium Range Anti-Armour Weapon, the same weapon that has been selected by Australia.

We have replaced both of the Air Force's aged 727s with 757-200 jet aircraft. We are about to embark on a modification programme including freight capability, engine enhancements and upgraded communications, and navigation equipment that will configure the aircraft to meet the strategic capability required by the NZDF. We have also announced a major 15-year life-extending upgrade of New Zealand's C130 Hercules.

The contract has been signed for the $350 million Mission Systems upgrade and the Communications and Navigation Systems upgrade on our P-3 Orion fleet. This will ensure that we have a sophisticated surveillance capacity out into the future.

And furthermore the Government has announced its intention to purchase a number of NH90 helicopters, and new training/light utility helicopters, to replace the Iroquois utility helicopter and the Sioux training helicopter.

As the Australian Government has also selected the NH90 (or MRH 90), this decision ensures significant interoperability benefits for both nations.

Last year, we signed a contract between the New Zealand Government and Australian ship builder Tenix to build seven new ships for New Zealand's Navy.

Known as Project Protector, this project sees us acquiring a new Multi Role vessel, two 85-metre offshore patrol vessels, and four 55-metre inshore patrol vessels, a $500 million investment in total.

I'd like to talk a little about Project Protector, which I think illustrates well our whole of government approach to defence as part of a wider framework of security.

When defence was defining its maritime patrol requirements, it worked actively with a number of other agencies to identify what capabilities they required in their areas of responsibility.

Surface patrol of New Zealand's EEZ, emergency responses to disasters in the Pacific, search and rescue, patrols in the Ross Sea and Southern Ocean, as well as coastal water patrols - all had to be taken into consideration.

Consultations were held with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Fisheries, Customs, Treasury, the Maritime Safety Authority and the Police, among others.

Prospective tenders were told exactly what it was we needed the ships to do - down to the two dog kennels for the Customs Service - and asked to come up with their own solutions in terms of ship numbers and design.

We are well satisfied with the results of this process.

This project shows that a $500 million defence investment in Project Protector can enhance not only New Zealand's military security, but also the security of our borders, our fisheries, our biosecurity, and a host of other areas.

It also greatly enhances our ability to provide support and assistance to our Pacific neighbours in times of civil emergency and natural disaster, and to work co-operatively with friends, particularly Australia.

And it also means that instead of running a number of small fleets, each catering for its own department, we have a high quality solution that can meet all of those agencies' needs.

Of course, there are those who will say that this government's defence spending is too low, and that we should keep up with nations many, many times our size.

Equally, I can assure you that there are also those who think that for a country like New Zealand, which has a population about the same size as Sydney, an additional $3 billion of capital expenditure and $4.6 billion on personnel and infrastructure over 10 years on a Defence Force, is an obscene amount of money better directed elsewhere.

But it seems to me that neither of these is a credible view.

I believe we have developed a thorough, realistic, modern defence policy-one that reflects New Zealand's place in today's world.

We have put in place a workable plan to achieve our defence goals and uphold our commitment as a responsible international citizen. New equipment also means a direct investment in the safety of our personnel, bringing their protection and mobility in line with 21st century technology.

However, in many ways the hardest work goes beyond re-equipping our forces. After all, if you make clear decisions about what you want to do, how you want to do it, and have the budget allocation to buy, then inevitably, someone will be available to sell it to you or build it for you.

Now, we have embarked on the more complex task of ensuring that the people side of defence gets the same quality review and priority setting that we have put in place for acquisitions.

As I said earlier, to meet these challenges we have launched the Defence Sustainability Initiative. The DSI aims to rebuild the operating capacity of the existing force.

As you know, military service is a demanding career with conditions of service that can be unattractive and anti-social.

Increasingly, as an employer in a strong economy with a record low unemployment, the NZDF faces the same issues as many other defence forces; high operational tempo, competition for manpower, aging infrastructure, and retention difficulties.

We determined we needed to make new investments in personnel, operating and management, to ensure the Defence Force has the required numbers of properly trained people, and is kept at the right level of preparedness and readiness.

And we need to ensure that we have the right people with the right skills to manage new equipment and the rate of change the defence force is currently undergoing.

Importantly, the DSI and the LTDP represent transparent commitments to providing defence with the resources to meet New Zealand's requirements into the future.

This commitment also provides an assurance to our security partners, that we take security issues seriously, and that whatever tomorrow may bring, New Zealand will have deployable, well equipped, well trained forces that can add value in any situation.

New Zealand's practical, high quality contribution to international security also sends a clear message about our commitment to defence. This is well illustrated by the extent of our overseas deployments. Presently our personnel are contributing to both United Nations-led and United Nations-endorsed missions, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Korea. The NZDF will also soon deploy troops to the UN Mission in Sudan. And until very recently, we had personnel in Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Cambodia.

Indeed, our operational tempo over the last six years has been the highest in a generation.

For a country of just over four million people, far away from many of the world's trouble spots, this by any measure represents a serious level of commitment.

Around the world, our personnel continue to make a very real impact on the lives of the local people and the communities they engage with.

They are also ambassadors for New Zealand, often in countries where we do not have a high diplomatic presence. They carry out their work knowing that they are our face in areas where New Zealand would otherwise have little or no profile.

And they are doing an outstanding job.

Our 123-member Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan's Bamyan Province, for example, is highly regarded by the Afghan authorities and the other forces operating in the country.

In June we announced the third rotation of SAS personnel to Afghanistan. They are engaged in long-range reconnaissance and direct action tasks against remnants of the Taleban, representing our commitment to building a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

Our personnel also take an active part in disaster relief operations overseas, most recently working alongside their Australian and other counterparts in the massive tsunami relief effort in Southeast Asia.

This work reflects the government's goal of a partnership between defence and foreign policy, aimed at securing New Zealand's well-being and meeting our international responsibilities. It embodies our commitment to security, both in our region and further away.

And this commitment goes beyond participating in international peacekeeping and support missions, and disaster relief operations. In the 21st century, New Zealand like other nations must respond to a rapidly changing and more complex global security environment. Like our friends here today, we face a range of serious, non-traditional security threats.

In June I attended the International Institute of Strategic Studies Asia-Security Conference in Singapore, for the fourth year in a row.

As in previous years, delegates emphasised the need to focus on non-traditional threats, which include terrorism, maritime and border security, people and drug smuggling and money laundering.

I also discussed these and other issues with my Australian counterpart, Senator Hill, at our annual Ministerial Defence Council meeting in Melbourne in May.

These threats are proliferating, and they are not "someone else's problem". New Zealand fully recognises that it shares a responsibility, and it has a stake in, confronting these threats.

Whether it occurs in London, Madrid, Istanbul, Bali, New York, or Baghdad, terrorism does not discriminate. While the threat of a terrorist attack on New Zealand soil may be perceived as low, our interests, and more importantly our people, like yours, can and have been, caught up in attacks elsewhere.

In our South Pacific neighbourhood, non-traditional security threats have well and truly arrived. Trans-national crime has accompanied flows of capital, trade and people into Pacific Island nations.

Last year for example the biggest methamphetamine lab in the Southern Hemisphere was uncovered in Fiji.

At home, defence is an important component of our whole-of-government approach to security management, and works with a range of other agencies including Police, Customs, Foreign Affairs, Fisheries and Immigration.

We must be especially vigilant to ensure terrorist networks cannot use New Zealand as a base or transit point.

Defence has an important role in security emergencies, and as a critical enabler for other agencies to carry out their tasks.

As I outlined earlier, Project Protector is a reflection of our whole-of-government approach. Another is the Maritime Co-ordination Centre, which brings together the planning and operations of six agencies including defence. The centre is co-located with Joint Forces Headquarters.

But no country, big or small, can tackle these threats alone. International cooperation is vital.

New Zealand is working with and alongside our friends and allies for a safer security environment.

I will give you a few examples.

New Zealand is involved in several initiatives to combat terrorism and trans-national crime in Pacific Island countries.

Along with Australia, we have taken steps to increase development and security assistance to these countries, and we are providing expert support, to help them meet their international counter-terrorism commitments.

New Zealand also works actively with Australia and Indonesia to counter the threat posed by people smugglers, and to restrict their boat departures.

We are keen to promote cooperation in enforcement, border protection and intelligence sharing on people smuggling.

As you are aware, New Zealand cooperates with Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom in the Five Power Defence Arrangement, which is making good progress in developing its capacity to respond to non-conventional security threats. The NZDF is involved in the full range of FPDA activities and exercises, which now include non-conventional threat scenarios.

We participate in the Proliferation Security Initiative, which underlines New Zealand's commitment to combating the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The NZDF takes an active part in PSI exercises and seminars. We are for example, contributing a P-3 Orion and staff officer to Exercise DEEP SABRE in Singapore this week.

We also take part in regional dialogue with our defence partners, through a range of bilateral meetings, and in multilateral settings like the ASEAN Regional Forum. We welcome the opportunity these meetings provide for dialogue and cooperation on both traditional and non-traditional security issues.

And our counter-terrorism efforts extend well beyond our own region.

We remain committed to Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom, where the NZDF is one of the largest per-capita contributors.

In today's international environment, the need for strong international partnerships is paramount. New Zealand values its defence links with friends and allies across the globe, particularly with Australia, our most important partner.

The ANZAC relationship is a uniquely close one, built not only on common geography, but also on shared values, history and institutions, not to mention our many battles on the sports field!

Our shared experiences at Gallipoli and during subsequent ANZAC campaigns, have given us a strong defence tradition together; a tradition that reflects mateship, loyalty, courage and self-sacrifice. It is a natural partnership.

Australia and New Zealand are both seeing the benefits of the Closer Defence Relationships framework.

Under CDR, we take into account the need for our forces to operate together when making force development decisions, improve our proficiency in joint operations, enhance our mutual operational effectiveness, and coordinate our defence assistance in the wider region.

The value of CDR, and the benefits of improving interoperability, were highlighted in our medical, engineering and logistics work in Banda Aceh. Our contributions in Solomon Islands and East Timor also showed just how effective trans-Tasman defence cooperation can be in promoting regional security.

I intended today, to give you a sense of New Zealand's commitment to defence. That New Zealand does indeed take its security and defence responsibilities, and relationships, very seriously.

New Zealand places great importance on cooperation with its friends and partners, and is committed to maintaining defence relationships, and contributing to international security. We particularly value the strong relationships with Australia, and other countries in our region.

We should all be proud of what we have achieved together, in partnerships, and I am confident will continue to endure.

Thank you.


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