7 Oct 2020

Expert panel set up for Defence Force review

3:06 pm on 7 October 2020

An expert panel has been set up to review the Defence Force's structure, information management and record-keeping processes.

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Defence Minister Ron Mark. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

In July, the Operation Burnham Inquiry concluded military officials [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/422424/operation-burnham-decisions-that-led-to-child-s-death-justified-inquiry-finds

did not plot to cover-up casualties during an operation in Afghanistan in 2010], as claimed in the book Hit and Run by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson.

However it did find the Defence Force never corrected claims made to the public and ministers by its personnel that allegations of civilian casualties were "unfounded", despite knowing it was possible.

Defence Minister Ron Mark said the former controller and Auditor-General, Lyn Provost, will chair the expert review group.

Other members of the group include Simon Murdoch, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade and former Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Tony Lynch, Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and former Deputy Secretary of Defence; Richard Foy, Chief Archivist, Archives New Zealand; Carol Douglass, Deputy Secretary Governance, People and Executive Services, Ministry of Defence and Brigadier Hugh McAslan, NZDF.

"As I indicated at the time of the release of the report, it is critically important that the public have confidence in the Defence Force and that the relevant structures and institutions are fit for purpose," Ron Mark said.

He said work was also underway to establish a new process for dealing with reports of civilian casualties, as well as introducing an independent Inspector-General of Defence.

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