Why review defence policy?

Defence policy is one aspect of national security policy, alongside foreign policy and other overlapping and mutually supporting policy areas.

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Defence policy is Government direction that:

  • Establishes the policy objectives that Defence will deliver, or contribute to delivering;
  • Guides the development of defence strategy, which describes the ways in which Defence will achieve those policy objectives, alongside other tools of statecraft; and
  • Determines how Defence will be organised, equipped and resourced to deliver on the policy objectives, through defence strategy.

Established defence policy settings enable Government to provide direction with a full view of the broader context and potential outcomes that any individual decision may have; this is especially important for defence policy, given the large-scale, long-term investments required to develop and employ defence capabilities.

It also helps guide decisions on purchasing capabilities which are vital for NZDF to, for example, help during disasters such as earthquakes and extreme weather events, both at home and offshore, provide search and rescue services, be combat-ready, and protect the natural resources of our precious Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The current defence policy was developed for a less threatening world. As such, New Zealand’s defence policy settings are being reviewed to ensure Defence is best placed to support the protection and promotion of New Zealand’s interests, over both the short and longer terms.

Ministers would still, as now, ultimately determine how Defence capabilities are used.