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Defence Review By The State Services Commissioner

New Zealand Defence Force: Review By The State Services Commissioner

The State Services Commissioner, Michael Wintringham, today announced the names of the two people who will lead his review of standards and security of information at the New Zealand Defence Force. The review will be conducted by:

- Mr Douglas White, a Wellington Queen’s Counsel; and
- Mr Graham Ansell, a former Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Wintringham said the Minister of Defence, Mark Burton, and the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Carey Adamson, had asked for the review. The review will be conducted under section 11 of the State Sector Act.

“Mr White and Mr Ansell will conduct the inquiries on my behalf, and report their findings to me. I anticipate then reporting to Mr Burton and Air Marshal Adamson,” Mr Wintringham said.

Mr Wintringham said that his review would address the questions of Defence Force standards for handling official information, and their relationship with and obligations to the Government. “I will look at the appropriateness of those standards, and the way in which they are reinforced and understood. The terms of reference are currently being finalised,” he said.

Mr Wintringham stressed that his review is not a ‘leak inquiry’. “Identifying those who have leaked information is the responsibility of the Chief of Defence Force,” he said. “In addition, however, my review will look at the action the Chief of Defence has taken in that regard, and whether that was action appropriate.”

Mr Wintringham said he expected it would take until late November to conclude his review. “In the meantime, I will not comment publicly on the review,” Mr Wintringham said.


Supplementary information:

- Section 11 of the State Sector Act allows the State Services Commissioner to carry out inquiries and other functions in parts of the State services other than the Public Service, where directed by the Prime Minister, or requested by the Minister responsible for, or the head of, the relevant State agency.

- In this case, the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force have each requested the Commissioner to “review the performance of the Defence Force in relation to expected standards of behaviour, and in particular the leaking and inappropriate use of information by Defence Force personnel.

- In carrying out functions in the wider State sector, the Commissioner can exercise the powers available to him under the State Sector Act. These include the same powers as a Commission of Inquiry has to summon witnesses and receive evidence, including taking evidence on oath (section 25).

- The Act allows the Commissioner to appoint “any person” to conduct an investigation on his behalf. Such persons likewise may exercise the Commission of Inquiry powers.

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