The Government has announced it will establish an Inspector-General of Defence to provide independent oversight of the New Zealand Defence Force.
Funding to establish and operate the Office of the IGD has been approved as part of Budget 2022, and legislation will now be drafted to give effect to this decision, Attorney-General, David Parker and Defence Minister, Peeni Henare announced today.
“This is an important step that will assure the New Zealand public and Parliament that NZDF activities are subject to dedicated independent oversight,” Attorney-General Parker said.
The establishment comes as a result of concerns raised during the inquiry into the August 2010 Operation Burnham, in Afghanistan, and related matters, he said.
“While the inquiry, led by Sir Terence Arnold and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, found that the actions of NZSAS on the ground were professional and lawful, there were significant shortcomings in the way NZDF subsequently dealt with allegations of civilian casualties, resulting in incorrect statements in briefings to ministers and in public statements.”
“NZDF’s failure to provide full, timely and accurate information to Ministers undermined two fundamental principles of our democracy – civilian control of the military and ministerial accountability to Parliament,” Mr Parker said.
Minister Henare said the IGD will provide an independent path to examine any gaps in NZDF systems so steps can be taken to make any necessary improvements.
“The Inspector-General of Defence will support me in facilitating democratic oversight of the NZDF, and provide independent scrutiny. They will be able to receive allegations of wrongdoing, investigate protected disclosures, and will be supported by strong statutory powers. Any person will be able to bring concerns about potential wrongdoing in, or by, the NZDF to the IGD’s attention who will have full discretion as to whether to investigate,” Minister Henare said.
“When I announced my Defence Priorities and Principles in December last year, I made it clear that the principle of Mana and Pono was vital for the NZDF; the trust and integrity that is so characteristic of our Defence Force is one of their most valuable assets.
“The increased transparency and accountability resulting from the establishment of the IGD will support this mana by ensuring the reputation and credibility of NZDF’s people is supported and maintained.”
Minister Henare thanked those who had taken part in both the original inquiry and those who submitted as part of a targeted consultation process, providing vital feedback, on the original draft of the scope, functions, power and form of the proposed Inspector-General of Defence late last year.