No Minister

Andrew Little is the New Minister of Defence

with 11 comments

My worst fears have come true – having ruined the Health System, Andrew Little is now going to ruin the New Zealand Defence Force.

He is on record as decrying the minimalist modernisation program announced only in 2016:

Labour leader Andrew Little has refused to commit to following through on the 15-year modernisation plan if he became prime minister, saying spending on housing and education would always take priority.

Last year the government unveiled the multi-billion dollar plan to equip the Defence Force with new aircraft, combat vessels and weaponry, as well as a major upgrade to its land and property.

It would cost $20bn over the next 15 years, and the procurement process for the some of the new equipment is already under way.

“But I have to tell you when it comes down to a choice between doing stuff that’s going to give people a chance to either get a roof over their head, get the kids set up for opportunities for the future, then that’s got to come first,” Mr Little said.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the plan was a modest way of making sure the defence force remained fit for purpose, and was able to respond to international threats and disasters back home.

“We don’t live in a benign environment,” Mr Brownlee said.

“This government has moved to put our defence forces in the best position they’ve been in for decades. What Mr Little is doing here I think is not expressing his own views but simply continuing a dialogue that lets him hold hands with the Green Party.”

Jeopardising the modernisation plan would be a huge step backwards, Mr Brownlee said.

The guy is dangerous because he thinks he knows a little bit about defence, growing up as an Army Brat, but has never served in uniform, clearly has no idea of the dilapidated state of barracks, housing, offices and training areas, and has not mentioned a word about the morale crisis crippling the army. What is he going to do about the 17.7% attrition rate? What informed thing has he ever said about the security situation either in the South West Pacific or around the globe?

Peeni Henare was out of his depth – his sole qualification was that his Grandfather (a National candidate by the way) was CO of the 28th Maori Battalion in the Second World War. Again, no personal service, no intimate idea of the challenges facing NZDF personnel and their families, no idea how to equip and structure the Defence Force in an ever more challenging security environment.

New Zealand deserves better politicians with more experience than just being a union hack (Little, Wood), or student politician (Hipkins, Ardern) or debating champion (Bishop).

But I suppose there really isn’t anyone else in the Labour Caucus is there?

Written by Major Star

January 31, 2023 at 2:51 pm

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with , ,

11 Responses

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  1. `But I suppose there really isn’t anyone else in the Labour Caucus is there?’

    My sympathies MS – be positive because on a really bad day you could have got Phil Twyford as Minister of Defence.


    January 31, 2023 at 4:40 pm

  2. I guess one positive you could take away is, at least he is a male.

    He should at a minimum enjoy things that go bang. Get him out on the range firing stuff at Jacinda targets, let off an RPG, drive a frigate if we have on operational, and perhaps a parachute jump out of a Herc, followed by a night in a rundown barracks where the 5 guys left in the SAS can mount a mock attack at 4am in the morning with thunder flashes through his bed windows…just dont take out his teddy bear and the striooed night dress he likes to wear.

    On an intellectual level Health was well out of his abilities. With Défense he might only have 9 months in charge, what could possibly go wrong.?

    My advice to Jacinda 4 years ago was simply do nothing and sit tight. Look how that turned out.


    January 31, 2023 at 5:46 pm

  3. That’s like like appointing Mr McGoo as Vice Chancellor of Victoria University.

    You mean they……………………….?


    January 31, 2023 at 6:58 pm

  4. Good post Major Starr although I think you were guilding the lilly somewhat calling him any Army brat … sure is father was in the Army but by the time Little came along he was out of it and relocated to NZL. At least Henare was prepared to own the modernization program started by National and given effect to by Ron (Medals) Mark.

    Little, failed Labour Party leader; failed Health Minister and demoted to No, 13 in Cabinet and given Defence … and his response to his appointment was to say that spending on housing and education must always take priority … I suspect there will be many people in the NZDF considering their position following his appointment as ‘their’ Minister. One suspects the attrition rate, currently at record levels, can only increase.

    Certainly his appointment could foreshadow the end of the combat Navy.

    The Veteran

    January 31, 2023 at 7:46 pm

  5. His appointment may foreshadow it but logic, economics and the future of our armed forces tells you our Navy has run its course.

    At probably $5billion a unit its simply uneconomic. Additionally, the traditional source of labour to man these ships has dried up, or rather sitting on the couch for obvious reasons.

    That $15 invested in the airforce, land based units and of course the new drone warfare unit would be a far better bang for the buck.

    The coming of the drone offers us a far better cost effective platform fight the war we are good at.

    On another matter I simply appalled that our armed forces management cannot even provide adequate housing for their staff! Thats not a failure of the minister at all, its mis management.

    Too much over seas travel and perks and lack of attention to detail relating to the grunts.


    January 31, 2023 at 10:53 pm

    • ` Thats not a failure of the minister at all, its mis management.’

      Is it Rossco? Because if the Minister does not `win’ a decent budget allocation then there is no money for management to spend on housing. Under Little they may struggle to get enough to pay wages and salaries.

      Disclosure: my military experience was limited to School Cadets 1960 to 1963 in which I attained the rank of Sergeant. As did most male 6 formers each year I was there.


      February 1, 2023 at 7:10 am

      • Well PDM I dont know what vote Defence is or has been annually but if the top dogs haven’t worked out by now how to spend things sneakily they must be the only govt department in existence, in the entire world who hasn’t.

        If they couldn’t have worked out a way to squirrel $1m a year to look after the accommodation of their employees, I would have to ask what they have done with the money

        Disclosure: no Military experience, ex Treasury on a number of Votes for 5 years, business owner, 35 years or more!


        February 1, 2023 at 8:29 am

    • So clearly you have bought into the Green Party solution … ditch the combat Navy and replace it with the ‘Coastguard’ solution. Yep, it would save money but it comes with the cost of NZL no longer being considered a credible defence partner. Sure ‘drones’ have their place but don’t cut the mustard for ‘over the horizon’ combat unless you are prepared to invest vast sums in technological support … a level of defence spending that is out of the reach of NZL.

      First the combat airforce; now the combat navy; tomorrow the combat army.

      As for defence housing and in my time you paid a peppercorn rental and got not much … nowadays you are dinged what is effectively a market rental price and you still don’t get much … 1950s and 1960s type housing poorly maintained … Pleurisy Point in Waiouru just about sums it up. It all comes down to money and the NZDF has never been good at investing in people. Where does the buck stop … it stops with the Minister.

      Ross Miller

      February 1, 2023 at 8:26 am

      • Ross, anyone who reads this blog would never accuse me of being or turning Green !!

        My view is based on “bang for buck” and the trends in world affairs currently happening.

        The USA has more people on one aircraft carrier than we have on the roll on Vote Defense, I suspect, (rossco exaggerating.)

        They have the biggest navy in the world and dont need our 3 frigates, 1 that operates, 1 x that is broken down, and the other doing something but probably an overhaul.

        As in WW2 our strengths were the air force and army, no disrespect to Navy veterans.

        “the NZDF has never been good at investing in people”, my point exactly


        February 1, 2023 at 8:42 am

  6. We only have 2 frigates, so often none on station. To those who think drones will do it, our fuel etc comes by ship. When the push comes to shove the US and Australia will not accord any priority to the extra bit of sea lane which gets those ships to NZ. If we don’t play our part – a navy which can keep up with its allies – then our lights will go out. Back to the 1930s. When will they ever learn.


    February 1, 2023 at 9:41 am

  7. Hi Rossco, my views too are also based on my read on the world, particularly with respect to the Indo-Pacific, however they are somewhat different.

    Without a frigate capability we would have no ability to escort our support vessels HMNZS Canterbury and Aotearoa into a contested environment with the troops and their material to undertake a UNSC Chapter VII mission like East Timor an operation that required two frigates as a screen to protect the Kiwi task force with safe passage into Dili. At the time TNI fighter aircraft and submarines present. As the mandated and very cautious and very capable commander of the operation MAJGEN Cosgrove of the ADF, would not have authorised the entry into theatre the two sealift vessels we hired at the time to get our INTERFET contribution into theatre.

    Without a frigate capability with embarked ASW helicopter we would have a greatly reduced ability to monitor and enforce our undersea electronic sea lines of communication which connects us to the world. Do you really want the the NZ digital economy to go dark?

    Without a frigate capability we would have no ability to escort in times of strategic tension no ability to escort merchant vessels carrying vital industrial supplies like oil, petrol and other critical products into New Zealand, which would soon send the country descending into economic and indeed social chaos. New Zealand SLOC’s are fragile enough post Covid, and would be at a whole different level if for example the PRC invaded Taiwan and as Japanese and America defence analyst expect a concurrent military adventure beyond the second island chain.

    Without a frigate capability we would lose a significant maritime intelligence and electronic warfare asset, which means we may as well forget our FVEY’s relationship, which is probably the most significant external relationship we have as a nation.

    Moreover the PLA(N) and the Chinese Coast Guard, their second Navy, dwarf the combined numbers of the USN and USCG in the ability to generate over 200 Ocean going long range surface combatants. The PLA(N) will also have by the end of this year 80 submarines in commission.

    Three frigates costing around $5.5 Billion dollars actually provide an excellent bang for the buck over their 35 year service life, because if any of the above calamities happen in the Indo-Pacific between now and 2060, and pretty much every credible defence analyst believes that their is an increasing risk of that being the case compared to even 3 years ago, their cost is mere fractional to the cost of never possessing the capability.

    Ueda Station

    February 1, 2023 at 10:42 am

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