INDEPENDENT NEWS

Defence review and inquiry details

Published: Mon 10 Sep 2001 03:45 PM
10 September 2001 Media Statement
Defence review and inquiry details
The Minister of Defence Mark Burton has announced a review and two inquiries into accountabilities, operations and responsibilities within defence.
"There will be three separate but related processes," Mark Burton said.
1. "There will be a review of the accountabilities and structural arrangements between the Ministry of Defence, the New Zealand Defence Force, and the three service arms.
"This review was signalled in the Government's Defence Policy Framework released in June 2000, and follows changes that have already been made at an operational level, with the establishment of Joint Force Operational Headquarters at Trentham.
"This is a major review," Mark Burton said. "The terms of reference are being finalised, but essentially the review will consider issues such as the effectiveness of the 1990 decision that created NZDF and MOD; the balance of responsibilities and accountabilities between the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force and the Chief of Defence Force and the single service chiefs; options for better co-ordination of policy advice and implementation; the issues raised in the Controller and Auditor General’s report; and options for greater transparency in the capital planning and acquisition process.
"Former State Services Commissioner Don Hunn has indicated his availability to conduct the review. This will be confirmed shortly. I will expect an interim report by Christmas.
"Feeding into this overall review will be the results of two inquiries," Mark Burton said.
2. "I have, along with the Chief of Defence Force, asked the State Services Commissioner to conduct a formal inquiry into standards of behaviour, the leaking of documents, and the inappropriate use of information and position by Defence Force personnel.
"The State Services Commissioner will initiate an investigation, which will, under section 11(4) of the State Sector Act, have all the desirable characteristics of a Commission of Inquiry, including the power to summon witnesses and hear evidence under oath.
"Those within and outside of the Defence Force who believe they have a contribution to make, will have an opportunity to do so.
"The consensus of Crown Law and the State Services Commission is that such an inquiry would be timely, focused and cost efficient, and would preserve the appropriate legal relationship between myself and the Chief of Defence Force as provided for in the Defence Act," Mark Burton said.
3. "I have also agreed with the Chief of Defence Force that the most appropriate way to address specific concerns over a letter written by an army officer in March 1997, and an e-mail circulated by naval staff in March 2001, is to involve the Judge Advocate General.
"The Judge Advocate General is appointed by the Governor-General and is statutorily independent. He is not answerable to the Chief of Defence Force, nor is he subject to political direction.
"The Judge Advocate General is the custodian of the military justice system. One of his specific roles is to advise the Chief of Defence Force on the conduct of investigations into the propriety of the actions of Service personnel, particularly where those actions are alleged to have impinged on constitutional conventions.
"His involvement is, therefore, entirely appropriate.
"The office of the Judge Advocate General is now identifying a suitable person to carry out an effective, timely and independent inquiry," Mark Burton said.
"I expect that the two inquiries, under the authority of the State Services Commissioner and the Judge Advocate General respectively, will be completed by November, and the findings will feed into the overarching review.
"This government is intent on building a highly professional, well equipped modern defence force. We are determined to put the most appropriate structures in place, and to ensure that any past problems are identified and eliminated," Mark Burton said.
ENDS
Alastair Thompson
Scoop Publisher
Alastair Thompson is the co-founder of Scoop. He is of Scottish and Irish extraction and from Wellington, New Zealand. Alastair has 24 years experience in the media, at the Dominion, National Business Review, North & South magazine, Straight Furrow newspaper and online since 1997. He is the winner of several journalism awards for business and investigative work.
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