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Minister: Building cross-party support and gaining reassurance in procurement

Line of Defence Magazine, Autumn 2018

Hon Ron Mark with Australian Minister for Defence Hon Marise PayneHon Ron Mark with Australian Minister for Defence Hon Marise Payne

 

Hon Ron Mark, Minister of Defence, writes that re-examining the Defence procurement programme is about avoiding rash purchases and making the right calls – and it will not affect P3 replacement.

 

It’s been a busy few months since I first took over the Defence portfolio.  In that time, I’ve received a large number of briefings on New Zealand’s Defence activity and procurement programmes.

However, there is nothing like getting out there and seeing things for yourself to really get a handle on what’s going on.

My recent trip to the Middle East was a perfect opportunity to see our Defence Force in action, and what I saw was impressive.

One of my goals for the trip was to find out if what we’re doing over in the Middle East was needed and valued.  Well I can assure you, New Zealand is valued, and we are needed.

Our personnel are making a huge difference to security in the region through their work and everyone I spoke to was gushing in their praise, not only of what we do, but how we do it.

New Zealanders have a certain way of integrating into a country.  We work well with others and it really shows in how we are received by our hosts.  Much of this has to do with the integration of Maori culture into our Defence Force.  Our tikanga is a force multiplier and it makes us more effective overseas.

This was a common comment from the leaders I spoke too.  In particular the US personnel.  They were in awe of the sheer volume and quality of the training we’ve provided during our time there.

I also had an opportunity to take Hon Andrew Little and the Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence select committee [Simon O’Connor] with me.  One of my priorities as Minister of Defence is to build cross party support for Defence.  I wanted them to be there for all my meetings and the events I attended so they could see what was going on and report back their findings to their respective caucuses.

 

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They joined me on a P3 operational flight.  This was one of the highlights of the trip.  Watching our team work seamlessly with other nations to help stop the supply of drugs and guns that fund terrorism really brought home the effectiveness of the capability provided by the P3.

Many of you will know the P3 is in the latter part of its lifespan and we are looking into what its replacement will be.

You will also know the Government’s coalition agreement commits to re-examining the Defence procurement programme within the context of the 2016 Defence Capability Plan budget.

This re-examining will not affect the work that’s going on to find and recommend a replacement for the P3.  It will just provide us with reassurance around the direction of Defence procurement, and ensure we’re making the right calls.

The Government is acutely aware we need to be replacing vital equipment, but it’s really important to me that we don’t make rash purchases that leave our service personnel ill-equipped for the future.  We’ve done this too many times in the past.

Re-examining the procurement programme is the right thing to do and will ensure we get the right piece of kit to do the job we require – for the next 50 years or more.

It’s important to me that New Zealand, through its Defence Force, continues to play a vital role in global security, as well as ensuring we are able to support and assist our friends in the Pacific whenever we are needed.

 

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