ACT goes on attack as Defence Force personnel are found to be sniping at pay, dwellings and leadership

When a  Royal New Zealand Air Force C130 Hercules broke down in Vanuatu  this  week   there  was  a certain  irony   in the  event.  It left  Defence Minister Peeni Henare stranded in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, where he had been leading  a delegation of 30 New Zealanders, including officials from the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who were in the country for World War II commemorations.

Henare  took  over  the  Defence  portfolio  after  the   2020 election,  but  so  far   he  has  done  little  to  upgrade  the  rundown   state   of  the  country’s  defence   resources.

Whether  his   stranding might serve  as  a  wake-up  call  could  be  monitored   not  just  by   Defence officials   but  by a   wider  public  becoming  alarmed  at  how  defenceless  NZ  has  become,  even  as  threats  in  the  Asia-Pacific  region  become  all too obvious.

This   week  the  ACT  party drew  attention to  how numbers are dropping in the New Zealand Defence Force as personnel are faced with “poor pay, poor dwellings, and poor leadership from the Minister”.

ACT’s Defence spokesman, Dr James McDowall, said the NZDF is experiencing  increasing  attrition  rates  across  all three services   driven by low  pay  and  poor  living  conditions

An internal survey obtained by ACT through Official Information Act requests shows that only 41% of army personnel are not actively looking at leaving the New Zealand Defence Force, while 54% don’t think  the  pay  they  receive is  fair.

McDowall says   he  has received  complaints  from personnel   who say are  they’re upset   by  the  poor  conditions  they  are  expected to live in, with many places  not being up to the Government’s own Healthy Homes standards.

“Our defence force is full of hard-working patriotic Kiwis who want to serve  their country, but Labour seems to think they serve on patriotism alone. The Government needs to acknowledge their service and back them with the resources and pay they deserve”

The answers to Written Parliamentary Questions from ACT show that between 2017 and 2021,  84 different job types – ranging from infantry to the trades –  failed to meet enlistment targets; many of which are also at risk of not meeting the 2022 enlistment target.

The responses also reveal that 653 NZDF personnel involved in Operation Protect, NZDF’s COVID response operation, have since chosen voluntarily to exit the military.

McDowall said it has also been reported that Brigadier Matt Weston told Henare in a briefing that attrition rates are “increasing month on month” and “In some areas and trades where the job market is especially buoyant, it is over 20%.”

“The warnings have all been there, but the Minister refuses to act.”

According  to McDowall,  ACT thinks  there should be  a  similar  commitment b our government to that of traditional allies to increase  defence spending to 2% of GDP.  This would result in $7.5bn in extra  expenditure over the next four years,  almost double what Labour would spend.

“We need to give our  Defence  Force the tools and resources they need. This kind of targeted spending would send a message to our defence personnel that we value their service, and to the rest of the world that we take  defence  obligations  seriously”.

As  a  footnote, Point  of  Order   records  the fact  the RNZAF is due to retire its C130 Hercules which has had a number of breakdowns in recent years.

The deliveries of the first new C-130J aircraft ordered  by   the  previous  Defence  Minister  Ron  Mark are due in 2024.

Some  defence  authorities  believe   NZ    urgently needs  to  order  missiles  and  drones  as  a  first  line  of  defence.

One thought on “ACT goes on attack as Defence Force personnel are found to be sniping at pay, dwellings and leadership

  1. I’m just a 66 yr old nobody from Awhitu…. but….. I have always reckoned..and I still do.. that we are kidding ourselves as a nation, that we need combat ready armed services….. we have commonwealth + protection in the event of a hostile action against us… as long as we recognise the Queen….and really.. who is seriously going to come down here and invade us???? I believe that our Navy should be well equipped to patrol and police our territorial waters .. In conjunction with the similarly equipped air force.These two arms of our defense force should be set up purely to defend our coastline and territorial waters. The army on the other hand .. should be molded into a civil defense model …on steroids if you like .. but a large force of capable men… well trained in conflict moderation…. and highly skilled …. and I do think that the school leavers who would otherwise leave school to go on the dole, should be mandated to do basic army training.There are a couple of benefits to this… They will learn skills they wouldn’t learn if left to their own devises…. some of these kids will find that they like the discipline and the atmosphere and will stay and do well….. there would be a revolving influx of new blood….and if paid reasonably well this could be an attractive alternative to ‘the life’ … on top of that the army may enjoy a renaissance in culture and outlook… and grow in numbers. The point is… our nation would be wasting money ….. a lot of money… on up to date military hardware that sits in Waiuru or wherever and rots away … same for the Air force and Navy…. Our big expenditure hardware should be totally usable on the home front for home-front security….. we don’t need rocket launchers, or tanks.. or jets….well.. jets are cool… but we’ve already proved in the past that we can’t afford the luxury, so……..A well trained force like that could also be handy to be of help to our pacific neighbours with whom we have a memorandum of understanding, should the need arise.


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