YOU CAN’T BE MIA IF YOU NEVER JOINED THE BATTLE
NEW ZEALAND MINISTER OF DEFENCE: FIRST SIX-MONTHLY PERFORMANCE REVIEW
NAME: The Honourable Peeni Henare
MINISTERIAL JOB TITLE UNDER REVIEW: Minister of Defence
PERIOD OF REVIEW: 5 November 2020 – 20 May 2021
REVIEWER(S): Kiwis who know that Defence matters
OTHER MINISTERIAL ROLES NOT UNDER REVIEW: Minister for Whanau Ora, Associate Health Minister (Maori Health), Associate Housing Minister (Maori Housing), Associate Tourism Minister
This chart is created from proactively released ministerial diaries (beehive.govt.nz) and covers the period from 5 November 2020 to 30 April 2021. May data has not yet been released.
A disappointing result given the Prime Minister’s statement in November 2020 that this employee asked specifically for the Defence portfolio. These figures conceal a deeper problem. Purely ceremonial events, frequently with other ministers in attendance, make up about a third of the total number of defence hours. This Minister has averaged only about 14 hours per month of diarised actual defence meetings, visits and calls. His absence was noted at several defence awards ceremonies which are titled ‘Minister of Defence Awards.’
EFFORT (sources beehive.govt.nz and parliament.nz):
The effort category covers the visible and tangible outputs of the reviewee, both in the House and outside.
Defence Media Releases: 6
27 November 2020: Five Power Defence Arrangements Defence Ministers’ Joint Statement
15 December 2020: Reappointment of Chief of Defence Force and Chiefs of Service
15 December 2020: Te Whare Toroa, a new home for No. 5 Squadron
17 February 2021: New Zealand to conclude its deployment to Afghanistan in 2021 (PM and Foreign Affairs Minister)
11 March 2021: NZDF to start vaccinating its uniformed personnel
20 April 2021: New Zealand to provide further support to UN North Korea sanctions (Foreign Affairs Minister)
Speeches Posted Online: 1
11 November 2020: Commemorative address at Act of Remembrance for Armistice Day
Defence Debates in Parliament: 1
13 April 2021: Obituaries — His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh
Oral Parliamentary Questions Answered: 1
18 February 2021: Patsy question from Paul Eagle (Labour) regarding the previously announced withdrawal of NZ troops from Afghanistan.
Defence Written Parliamentary Questions Answered: 48
48 received up to 12 May 2021 (6 working day turnaround requirement). 48 answered. Good effort by the Minister’s Defence staff.
One of the most important measures of success for a minister is their ability to win funding for their portfolio. In this budget 2021/22, the reviewee has proven to be a huge disappointment. Defence Estate regeneration wound back significantly. Capital injections only churn capital charge around previously approved purchases (such as the P-8 Poseidon). No new initiatives of consequence. Nothing to see here by way of achievement. Significantly, there is no diarised entry for a meeting as Minister of Defence with the Minister of Finance in the months leading up to the budget.
HR 360 DEGREE APPRAISAL
It is concerning that the consolidated, over-arching response from Defence personnel consulted as part of this review is “We’ve gone from having a Minister who was far too operational to…very little attention at all. What do we have to do to get a Minister who is actually interested in the portfolio beyond ceremonial? We need someone who will fight for and win the resources we need to do our job.”
One could be forgiven for taking the view that this Minister appears to believe that the purpose of the defence portfolio is to move his Grandfather’s medals from parade to parade. Defence is clearly not his highest priority. In the absence of a reshuffle or significant change, I believe an Associate Defence Minister who will actively engage with the portfolio must be considered.
OVERALL RATING NOT ACHIEVED
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