Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Inspector-General of Defence to be established

An office for an Independent Inspector-General of Defence will be established in Aotearoa New Zealand, following the passing of the Inspector-General of Defence Bill in Parliament.

Defence Minister, Andrew Little said the move is the final step towards the fulfilment of recommendations made by the Inquiry into Operation Burnham and related matters in 2020.

“The purpose of this office will be to facilitate independent oversight of the activities of the New Zealand Defence Force,” said Minister Little.

“The establishment of this office is significant as it goes to the heart of two fundamentals in democratic society – that there is civilian control of the military and that there is Ministerial accountability to Parliament.”

The Bill establishes the Inspector-General of Defence as an independent statutory office, which is a similar structure to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

The office of the Inspector-General will be administered by the Ministry of Justice.

“The Inspector-General will have the power to investigate any activity or matter related to New Zealand Defence Force, except the activities of Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand,” Attorney General, David Parker said.

“The Inspector-General has broad-ranging powers and can launch an investigation on their own initiative, or after they’ve received a referral from the Minister of Defence, Secretary of Defence or Chief of Defence Force.”

The establishment of an independent Inspector-General of Defence was one of four key recommendations in the Operation Burnham Inquiry.

The Inquiry found the actions of NZSAS in 2010 and 2011 in Afghanistan were professional and lawful, but it criticised the way the NZDF subsequently failed to provide information to Ministers, and inadequately scrutinised or responded to information.

“It’s important this Bill goes a long way toward supporting the brave, selfless and dedicated individuals who make up the New Zealand Defence Force. Our personnel are our most valuable asset, and it is critical they know they are supported to do their often challenging work,” said Minister Little.

The Bill underwent a robust review process, including the consideration of submissions from members of the public and independent advice from Former Supreme Court Judge Sir Kenneth Keith.

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