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Inspector-General Of Defence Bill Introduced

The Government has today introduced the Inspector-General of Defence Bill designed to provide independent oversight of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

This was a recommendation from the Operation Burnham Inquiry which identified significant shortcomings in the way NZDF dealt with allegations of civilian casualties, resulting in a series of incorrect statements in briefings to Ministers and the public between 2010 and 2017.

“The inquiry, led by Sir Terence Arnold and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, recommended that an office of the Independent Inspector-General of Defence (located outside the NZDF organisational structure) be established,” Attorney-General David Parker said.

“The aim was to facilitate independent oversight of NZDF and enhance its democratic accountability, which the Inspector-General of Defence achieves.”

The introduction of this Bill is another key outcome from the Report of the Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and Related Matters. In November last year an Expert Review Group released its report outlining recommendations relating to organisational structure, information management and recordkeeping. Prior to this in January 2021, a Defence Force Order was established, setting out how allegations of civilian casualties should be dealt with in theatre and in New Zealand.

“The establishment of the Inspector-General of Defence speaks to the heart of this Government’s priority of laying the foundations for a better future,” Peeni Henare said.

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“This bill provides the parameters for the Inspector-General of Defence who will support me in facilitating democratic oversight of the NZDF. Anyone will be able to raise concerns of potential wrongdoing and this bill ensures the office will have full discretion over whether to act on those allegations.

“Having an Inspector-General of Defence which has the necessary powers and authority to provide oversight of NZDF activities is essential – not only to ensure independent scrutiny, but also to support the dedicated men and women who are asked to protect Aotearoa and our interests.”

Once appointed, the Inspector-General of Defence will work to strengthen public confidence and support New Zealand’s international reputation by providing independent assurance that the NZDF’s activities, in a rapidly changing global security context, are subject to dedicated independent oversight.

“It also supports one of the three priorities I have set for defence – that of People. The increased transparency and accountability resulting from the establishment of the Inspector-General of Defence will ensure the reputation and credibility of NZDF,” Peeni Henare said.

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