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Defence: Problems with Recruitment & Retention

Defence's Recruitment And Retention Problems Continue

The Defence Force’s annual report makes for some grim reading, particularly on the recruitment and retention front, says New Zealand First’s defence spokesperson Ron Mark.

“Regular force attrition rates sit at around 16% for the year to June. This is the worst rate in five years. Such a rate means that roughly one in every six staff left the defence force in the last year,” said Mr Mark.

“It must be noted that these figures are an average across all of the services, with some branches, particularly the Navy, hit harder than others.

“In a major understatement, the report notes that retention and recruitment rates in the Navy “present significant challenges”. Things are so bad in the Navy that some of its ships spent less than half the planned time at sea:

- HMNZS Endeavour spent only 50 days at sea out of an expected 100 - 120 days
- HMNZS Te Kaha spent only 99 days at sea out of an expected 140 - 160 days
- HMNZS Canterbury spend only 95 days at sea our of an expected 140 -160 days

“The situation is likely to get worse when the new offshore and inshore patrol vessels purchased under Project Protector enter service this year.

“The problems are not just limited to the Navy. Right across the services, personnel problems are limiting the effectiveness of our forces.

“The blame for the current situation lies squarely with the Defence force heads who, supported by the Government, have spent up large on new toys and equipment while overlooking the most important factor in an effective defence force – its people.

“That it took almost ten years to accept that the remuneration levels offered to personnel were no longer in line with market realities and that a first principles review was needed, is a tragedy, for it has cost our forces hundreds of highly competent staff.

“Regretfully, as good as the new pay structure is looking, it comes too late to prevent what has and is happening, and, sadly, unless there is a quantum injection by the Government over and above the current allocations under the Defence Sustainability Initiative there is no guarantee that we will see any improvement in the short term,” said Mr Mark.


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