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Goff: Territorial Forces Employer Support Council

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence


16 October 2006

Speech Notes


Launch of Territorial Forces Employer Support Council

Delivered at Banquet Hall, Parliament, Wellington.

Chief of Defence Force General Mateparae, Brigadier Tim Brewer, John Allen, CEO of New Zealand Post, members of the diplomatic corps, ministerial and parliamentary colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great pleasure to welcome you here this evening to mark the launch of the Territorial Forces Employer Support Council.

Some 2,400 territorials serve as part time members of our armed forces, making up nearly a quarter of New Zealand Defence Force personnel. They supplement the regular forces of the Army, Navy, and Air Force providing vital additional personnel, including in the important areas of specialist trades and skills.

The TF Employer Support Council will play a key role communicating and liaising with employers and employer groups. The Council and its regional committees will help inform employers about the benefits for their employees and for their companies of their employees serving in the territorial forces. Serving in the territorials promotes the acquisition of new skills, experiences, leadership ability and values by employees which have real benefit for employers, large and small.

And territorial service personnel have consistently demonstrated their capabilities.

As well as the thousands who have received training in New Zealand, over 500 TF personnel have deployed around the world in recent years. They have served in the Sinai, Bougainville, East Timor, Bosnia, Sudan, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

I have also announced today that territorial force soldiers will make up the majority of New Zealand's defence force commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission in Solomon Islands over the next twelve months. The next contingent is currently undergoing full regular force pre-deployment training at Burnham Camp. The next two-three platoons will have a Regular Force component, but will essentially be territorial units.

It is a vote of confidence in the determination, skills and professional competency of territorial soldiers.

This will be the first time the NZDF has deployed a predominantly territorial contingent on a peacekeeping mission. This deployment will take pressure off other regular force units during a period of high operational tempo and add experience and strength to the Territorial Forces.

The continuing volatility of the Solomon Islands means that this will be no easy deployment. All New Zealanders, regular and territorial, serving in RAMSI will be trained and equipped to the highest standards.

The Territorial Forces Employer Support Council is established under the Defence Act 1990. Its goal is to promote service in the territorial forces and to advise the Minister on matters relating to this. It will engage actively with employers to secure their support for service in the territorials. Together with protections provided under the Volunteer Employer Protection Amendment Act 2004, it is hoped that the Council's work will encourage more employees to participate as volunteers in the Defence Force.

Can I acknowledge the role and responsibilities undertaken by John Allen as CEO of New Zealand Post in his position as Chair of the Employer Support Council and the wide range of competent people who have accepted positions on the Council. I would like also to acknowledge Brigadier Tim Brewer as Director General of Reserve Forces.

I'd like to thank you for being here tonight to acknowledge the importance of the Territorial Forces within the New Zealand Defence Force, and the community. I have much pleasure in officially declaring the Council launched and wish John Allen and the team every success.

Thank you.

ENDS


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