8 March 2012
Reforms at the New Zealand Defence Force are on track, but the process has affected those who work for the Defence Force, the Vice Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force told a Select Committee today.
Rear Admiral Jack Steer told Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee that the Defence Force has realised savings for 2011/12 of $127 million, as at the end of January. Savings for reinvestment for the full financial year are forecast to be $142 million – against the $130-$150 million we forecast in August 2011.
“In short, our reform programme is on track,” he says. “We have made savings and have a comprehensive plan for the remainder. We currently forecast to achieve $355 million savings for reinvestment by FY 14 /15.”
But the Vice Chief of Defence acknowledged that such fundamental change, that it had hit Defence people hard, with higher attrition and lower morale than in recent years.
“There is no shying away from the fact that it has impacted our people,” he says. “It is people that define our organisation, they are our greatest capability and if we cannot keep well trained people; or cannot keep morale up, we will not be able to deliver on our mission. This is a focus of the Defence Force leadership team.
“For the record I would like to state that we are immensely proud of the young men and women of our Defence Force. Every day they are prepared to step into harms way in the service of their country. They are a very impressive group of New Zealanders and we are most grateful and appreciative for the service they provide.”
With regard to Defence’s civilianisation programme, Rear Admiral Steer says savings had been realised earlier and of a greater amount than originally forecast. In total 304 members of the Defence Force were ‘impacted by civilianisation, with 85 of them appointed to civilian roles.
Rear Admiral Steer says this means that the next phase of civilianisation would be progressed through existing attrition and completion of contracts: “Our people even in roles under consideration for civilianisation, can have the certainty that there is a job until they decide to make a change.”
“This has been a hard year for the NZ Defence Force, with the losses of life on operations, the impact of the change programme, and the high tempo of activities.
“As we explain to our people, the changes we are undertaking are not about cutting the Defence Force, they are about ensuring that the money is spent where it needs to be to ensure the maintenance of the military capability that the New Zealand Defence Force provides to the Government of the day, and that contributes to the security and well being of the people of New Zealand.”
The Vice Chief of Defence formally noted the deaths while on duty in the years under consideration by the Select Committee of Corporal Ben Carson, FGOFF Dan Gregory, FLLT Hayden Madsen, LT Tim O’Donnell, Private Karifi Mila, Corporal Doug Grant; and Lance Corporal Leon Smith.
“Our thoughts remain with their family and friends. Our thoughts today are also with our colleagues from the 3rd battalion, the Yorkshire regiment and the 1st Bn, the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment who overnight lost six of their family in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan,” he says.