Defence Force numbers slashed

A previously secret report reveals plans to slash hundreds more positions in the New Zealand Defence Force, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff.

“The Establishment Review Report, released to me under the Official Information Act, recommends further staff cuts across the Defence Force. Over 700 positions will be affected.

“This is just a few years after the Government imposed its disastrous civilianisation process. The result of that was that thousands of disillusioned service personnel quit.

“At that time the Auditor-General panned the Government’s actions as a breach of its obligations to its Defence Force employees.

“The latest report recommends the removal of 104 further positions, two thirds of which will go by next year.

“A further 227 temporary positions (178 military, 49 civilian) will disappear by 2018.

“On top of this, the report reveals the need to further reduce the number of civil staff positions and Air Force personnel by 315 and 67 respectively from the current establishment to comply with funding caps.

“It says that permanent positions will need to be kept vacant in order to fill temporary personnel requirements which emerge.

“All of this foreshadows a further shambles in Defence Force staffing and growing pressures from not having enough people to meet demands.

“To add insult to injury, after having made military personnel redundant in the ill-fated civilianisation process, the report notes a U-turn in the Government’s position with the conversion back to military positions of 36 civilian roles.

“Once again we are seeing evidence of National undervaluing the role of our military by insisting the Defence Force takes the axe to its staff,” Phil Goff said.