Minister of Defence Peeni Henare has today released the Report of the Expert Review Group, set up in response to the Operation Burnham Inquiry.
The Group was asked to examine the New Zealand Defence Force’s organisational structure, record-keeping and retrieval processes, and whether they are in accordance with international best practice.
“The report finds that the changes made since August 2010 when Operation Burnham took place are positive, however more work needs to be done,” Minister Henare said.
The report found that key changes and improvements NZDF has made since 2010 included implementing revised command, control and accountability arrangements for the New Zealand Special Air Service by the establishment of the Special Operations Component at Headquarters Joint Forces. The Ministry of Defence and NZDF have also embedded a joint process for providing advice to Government on deployment mandates. However it identified a number of areas for improvement and has made nine recommendations to reduce the likelihood of the failings identified by the Inquiry being repeated in the future.
The recommendations include:
- Strengthening the integration between the NZDF and Ministry of Defence throughout the duration of a deployment, at all levels of both organisations;
- Reviewing the suitability of particular elements of Headquarters NZDF for the future;
- Continuing to integrate the New Zealand Special Air Service into the wider NZDF and national security sector, including through leadership development; and
- Improving NZDF information management systems and practices, and the flow of defence knowledge to the Minister of Defence.
“I have accepted all nine of the recommendations in the Report and have directed both the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Kevin Short, and the Secretary of Defence, Andrew Bridgman, to implement them in an integrated way. I expect regular progress reports from officials on this work,” Mr Henare said.
The Defence agencies will report back to the Minister of Defence on progress made in implementing the Expert Review Group’s recommendations by 30 June 2023.
Minister Henare also indicated that good progress has been made with the other recommendations proposed in the Operation Burnham Inquiry, including the establishment of an Inspector-General of Defence to provide independent oversight of the NZDF.
“Targeted consultation with interested parties will be launched from tomorrow on proposals for the scope, functions, powers and form of an Inspector-General of Defence. This office has been created to bolster control and oversight for the Government as a result of concerns raised by the Operation Burnham Inquiry,” Attorney-General David Parker said.
This process will inform final decisions on the establishment of the Inspector-General to be taken by Cabinet in 2022.
“Strong defence systems and processes, oversight and transparency are central for maintaining trust and confidence in Defence to deliver complex operations. I want to ensure that the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence are well positioned for the future.”
“I would like to express my appreciation for the work of all members of the Expert Review Group, the Chair, Lyn Provost, Simon Murdoch, Tony Lynch, Richard Foy, Carol Douglass, Brigadier Hugh McAslan, and the international advisors, Dennis Richardson and Air Marshal Philip Osborn (RAF retired),” Mr Henare said.
A copy of the Report of the Expert Review Group is available at: www.beehive.govt.nz