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Quigley Speech On Defence Review

Speech: Hon Derek Quigley
EMBARGOED UNTIL 12.30PM THURSDAY, 9 SEPT

SPEECH NOTES HON DEREK QUIGLEY
MP CHAIR, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE & TRADE COMMITTEE
MASSEY UNIVERSITY FORUM
SCHOOL OF HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY & POLITICS
THURSDAY, 9 SEPTEMBER 1999

The report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee "Defence Beyond 2000" presented to Parliament last week was the product of an exhaustive two year inquiry on the part of the Committee.

It was preceded by two other inquiries by the Committee - the first into "New Zealand's Place in the World" and the second into "New Zealand's Role in Asia/Pacific Security."

It involved wide consultation. The Committee took oral evidence from 53 people and groups. They ranged from people such as the Secretary of Defence, the Chief of Defence Force and the three service chiefs, to the RSA, academics, peace groups and individuals with an interest in defence issues. In addition, there were 16 written submissions. We spent several days visiting camps and bases in New Zealand, and we made a five-day visit to Australia for top-level talks and to see defence facilities there.

In my Parliamentary experience I don't recall any more exhaustive inquiry than that carried out by this committee.

One of the striking outcomes of our inquiry was that we broke free from the "magic circle" within the Defence Establishment which tightly controls the range and input of advice when it comes to formulating policy advice to the Government. For reasons that defeat me, these Defence insiders are reluctant to reach outside this "magic circle" to tap into the reservoir of advice from outside the limited Defence Establishment.

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The very wide catchment we tapped into is reflected in our report. We may not have reached unanimity around the Committee table but we were able to base our conclusions on solid information.

The submissions we received supported our firm view that Defence should throw open its doors to as wide a range of expert outside advice that is available.

Another major breakthrough achieved by our Committee is that in undertaking our inquiry we broke from tradition. In the past, Committees have had a limited, mostly reactive role. They received Government proposals and legislation which they could improve by amendment but not much more.

We took a proactive approach, initiating our own inquiries into policy matters and - I suspect - influencing the shape of future policy. I see this approach as a positive contribution to our Parliamentary democracy and one that I hope is taken up by other Select Committees in the future.

The final document has benefited very considerably from the procedure the Committee adopted of producing an interim report, considering the government's response to that interim report, and obtaining further comments on those two documents and other relevant issues. That procedure is not one commonly followed by select committees.

Although the final document contains a majority report and a minority National Party report much of its contents are agreed to by all members of the Select Committee.

Where there is disagreement, this is basically because the three government members on the Committee opted to followed the official Government policy line based on the 1991 and 1997 White Papers and 1997 Defence Assessment. The majority considers a new defence White Paper is needed.

What is clear, is that the Defence Beyond 2000 Inquiry is one of the most comprehensive reviews of defence and security issues ever carried out by a New Zealand Parliamentary Select Committee and is - I believe - a worthwhile contribution to the debate on a topic where public discussion and alternative views have often been discouraged.

Before going further into the report, I would like to set out the inquiry's terms of reference. They were:

1. Defence strategy and defence policy goals

2. Areas of defence activity requiring particular emphasis

3. The range and nature of defence capabilities required

4. Structural options, planning and organisation for an appropriate and effective defence establishment

5. Resource needs and options available within defence for redirecting resources to enhance military capabilities.

A key finding by the majority was that New Zealand cannot have a credible defence force without prioritising New Zealand's strategic interests, defence tasks and force capabilities.

We came to the view that "in trying to prepare for everything, we run the risk of doing nothing properly."

Three linked issues influenced this approach: The likely size of the ongoing defence budget which we do not expect to be increased in real terms; our view that NZDF credibility is judged by its capacity to perform today, not on what we might be able to do in the future; and the importance of keeping abreast of technological changes.

The majority believes a different approach is required to that outlined in the Defence Assessment which we have recorded in our report:

"It should be kept in mind that our judgments and assessments are based on the capabilities called for in the options at the time they are achieved, as opposed to the current level of effectiveness of the NZDF. In most cases the effective capabilities will not be achieved for several years. For example, the Army currently has some significant limitation in its capabilities. Under all options it will take about five years to reach the point where the more serious shortcomings are overcome, and about another five years before the Army achieves the capabilities called for in the option. The situation is similar in the Navy and Air Force".


ENDS

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