Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has visited New Zealand Defence Force personnel training the Iraqi Security Forces at Camp Taji near Baghdad.
Mr Mitchell, on his first visit to Taji as Minister, was accompanied by fellow MPs Todd Muller and Labour List MP David Parker.
“I am incredibly proud of the work our servicemen and women are doing, and the contribution they are making towards the defeat of ISIS," Mr Mitchell says.
“They are delivering a broad range of high-quality training and have developed the ability to quickly adapt the training to meet changing enemy tactics on the battlefield.
“Since this deployment began in 2015 we've trained over 23,000 Iraqi soldiers, arming them with new skills and capabilities that have assisted them to complete complex joint force tasks.
"Our people are simply outstanding at what they do. It is making a difference as the military fight against ISIS progresses towards its final stages, and it is greatly appreciated not only by the Iraqi Government but our other coalition partners.
"This isn't just a New Zealand mission though - it is a close partnership with the Australian Defence Force with both sides acknowledging they couldn't deliver the mission without the other. I know the entire delegation was pleased to see our two nations working together and supporting one another in the spirit of our Anzac ties.
"Good progress continues to be made in the final liberation of Mosul and the military defeat of ISIS, while not underestimating the longer term challenges the Iraqi Government and Iraqi people face as they stabilise and rebuild territory regained from ISIS. They are looking to the international community for continuing support."
New Zealand has 106 trainers, force protection elements and other Regular Force soldiers at Taji.
While in Iraq Mr Mitchell also met the Iraqi Acting Minister of Defence, General Othman al-Ghanimi and the US commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend.
In the United Arab Emirates Mr Mitchell met and discussed regional issues with Ministry of Defence Under-Secretary His Excellency Matar Salem Al Dhaheri.
Minister addresses Taji contingent
Minister chats to NZDF soldier
Minister with ISF soldiers
The Government will shortly introduce legislation aimed at putting the Public Trust on an equal footing with private sector institutions.
The new legislation will remove the Crown guarantee of the Public Trust, in line with government policy for several decades that Crown-owned commercial businesses should not have a competitive advantage through being Crown-owned, Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.
“Public Trust recently received an AA credit rating from independent credit rating agency Fitch. This rating is a sign of very low credit risk, and a high level of ability to meet financial commitments. The rating places the Public Trust just one notch below the Government's own rating.”
Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says the rating gives the Public Trust’s customers certainty that it is a strong, stable, sustainable business.
“Gaining the AA rating is a considerable achievement. It shows customers that they can have confidence in the organisation, and that they will not be disadvantaged by the removal of the guarantee.
“No other business in New Zealand that provides the same services as the Public Trust is underpinned by a Crown guarantee,” he says.
The Crown guarantee will remain in place until the legislation is passed by Parliament. This is likely to be in the second half of 2018.
Disability advocate and former paralympian Paula Tesoriero has been appointed as the Human Rights Commission’s next Disability Rights Commissioner, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell announced today.
The position of Disabilities Rights Commissioner was created by an amendment to the Human Rights Act 1993 passed last year. Ms Tesoriero replaces Paul Gibson, who was the first Human Rights Commissioner with a formal responsibility for disability issues.
“Ms Tesoriero has a significant record of working to increase awareness of disability issues. She is well informed on New Zealand’s international human rights standing and her legal background and understanding of the machinery of government will be advantageous in the context of the Commission’s work,” Mr Mitchell says.
“I also want to acknowledge and thank Paul Gibson for his service and advocacy in this role.”
Since February 2016 Ms Tesoriero has been General Manager, Systems and Partnerships with Statistics New Zealand. From 2010 to 2016 she was General Manager Higher Courts with the Ministry of Justice.
Ms Tesoriero created history with her world record-breaking time in the women’s 500m cycling time trial at the Beijing Summer Paralympics in 2008, securing New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Games. Her services to cycling were recognised when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year’s Honours.
Ms Tesoriero also has a high profile in the disability sector, where she served as Deputy Chair of the NZ Artificial Limb Service and a Board member of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. She holds an LLB, BA, and Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management qualifications.
Ms Tesoriero will take up her three-year appointment on 31 July.
The Human Rights Commission is an independent Crown entity that works with Government and civil society to promote respect for human rights, encourage harmonious race relations and equal employment opportunities, and to resolve complaints about discrimination and related issues.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has congratulated New Zealand Defence Force engineers who arrived home from the Sinai today on “a job well done”.
The detachment carried out key infrastructure projects for the Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping contingent in the Sinai.
“This team has done a great job in challenging conditions to complete these two vital projects for the MFO,” Mr Mitchell says.
The engineers built a new entry control point and helped construct a 3.3-kilometer perimeter fence for the MFO’s South Camp.
Mr Mitchell says the projects would improve security at South Camp, where the mission’s headquarters and a number of troops from the 12 nations that make up the MFO’s force moved in mid-2016 because of the deteriorating security situation in North Sinai.
The engineers, from the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment, left in January to work on the two projects for the MFO.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has held discussions today with General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, who is currently visiting New Zealand.
General Pavel is NATO’s senior military officer and the principal military advisor to NATO’s Secretary-General.
“New Zealand is one of NATO’s strategic partners and General Pavel’s visit reflects the importance of this partnership,” says Mr Mitchell.
“Our relationship with NATO is an important part of New Zealand’s contribution to the rules-based order and international peace and security.
“I had a very useful meeting with General Pavel. I was able to follow up on recent discussions in Copenhagen and Singapore, and it was a good opportunity to share perspectives on security challenges facing NATO and New Zealand, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”
New Zealand contributes 10 personnel to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy which is part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. The Government is considering a request from the United States to send a small number of additional personnel to Afghanistan.
General Pavel was conducting a counterpart visit with Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating. His itinerary included meetings with officials and academics and visits to Defence bases.
A new building to house the Aviation Medicine Unit at RNZAF Base Auckland was opened by Defence Minister Mark Mitchell this afternoon.
The $6.5 million building is the first of a large number of capital projects to be delivered under the Defence Estate Regeneration Plan, the biggest ever capital investment in the regeneration of Defence Force camps and bases.
It will house all the facilities required to provide a modern, safe and efficient aviation medicine service for the Air Force.
“The Defence Estate Regeneration Plan, released last year, provides for the essential infrastructure we need to support modern Defence capabilities,” Mr Mitchell says.
“This new building is the first deliverable of the Plan to be completed – a facility designed to support vital future needs.
“Likewise, the $100 million investment announced in the Budget in May will be targeted at creating the healthy, safe and more modern facilities that are critically important to the health and wellbeing of our Defence Force personnel across New Zealand,” he says.
My thanks to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Dr John Chipman, and the Singapore Ministry of Defence for what has been a very rewarding event.
This forum is one of the world's pre-eminent institutions for defence diplomacy.
It provides a chance for friends and neighbours from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond to talk openly about the challenges and opportunities we face in our region.
Responses to global threats are only effective when all states, no matter their size, have the opportunity to share their views and perspectives, for we all have a role to play.
I’ll begin by briefly touching on the global threats which impact the prosperity and security of every country here today.
Our 2016 White Paper highlighted the fast-moving international security environment which continues to test us on several fronts.
We are now faced with a number of challenges which combine multiple threats, actors and competing security interests, and which have global application.
Localised, conventional challenges are no longer the norm.
We have discussed nuclear proliferation, particularly the current threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing, which New Zealand condemns in the strongest terms.
We have discussed the ever-growing threat of violent extremism, which reaches across the globe, including the problem of returning foreign terrorist fighters, from Iraq and Syria.
We know that terror organisations look to galvanise support and exploit porous borders, disenfranchised individuals and the access provided by the internet and social media.
This a clear and present security threat to us all, and there’s no clearer reminder of this than the horrendous attacks in London today.
May I express our deepest sympathies to our friends in the United Kingdom.
Once again, London has experienced a terror attack with the loss of innocent lives, and we send our condolences to those who have lost loved ones.
This dialogue is timely in allowing us to focus on how we show resolve in the fight against ISIS and address the threat this corrupted ideology presents.
We have also discussed how the dual processes of globalisation and the digital revolution cross borders to produce immediate connection to families, companies and countries.
But these same connections also provide instant links between attacker and victim, actor and target.
And we have seen recently how harmful cyber attacks can be, and what damage can be inflicted on civilian life and infrastructure.
New Zealand, as a connected global citizen, is not immune to these threats.
These are clearly issues of significance.
We are constantly challenging ourselves on how best to use our resources and capabilities to contribute, credibly and effectively, to countering global threats.
We are a very strong supporter of the rules-based order, and of international norms.
For example, we co-drafted the United Nations Security Council-led Resolution 2286 for the Protection of Civilians.
This Resolution was the first of its kind to focus on the prevention of attacks against medical personnel and healthcare facilities in armed conflict.
Eighty-four states joined New Zealand in co-sponsoring the text, making it one of the most widely supported Security Council Resolutions ever.
It is now being implemented in theatres of conflict, including, for example, Syria.
New Zealand’s support for an international rules-based system is not a rhetorical statement.
It is real, and it is critical for our economic well-being.
Enjoying the benefits of such a system means that New Zealand, like other countries, has an obligation to fulfil the responsibilities associated with it.
We are a maritime nation.
We have the fourth largest exclusive economic zone in the world.
Ninety-five per cent of New Zealand's goods trade is by sea, linked to markets far from our shores.
We place great importance on both freedom of navigation and maintaining open trade lanes.
New Zealand has a fundamental interest in ensuring that the legal framework and protections provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea are universally upheld.
And across the Asia-Pacific, we all have a collective stake in maritime security and stability.
This provides clear incentives to manage maritime and territorial disputes peacefully.
The South China Sea may be some distance from New Zealand, but, similar to other countries, over half of our trade transits this area.
We therefore have a direct interest in how tensions are managed and miscalculations avoided.
New Zealand is concerned by actions that undermine peace and erode trust.
We continue to call on the parties to manage the situation peacefully and will continue to support initiatives, including a comprehensive ASEAN-China Code of Conduct on the South China Sea to manage tensions.
We are active and focused on building regional architecture to counter security concerns.
Most recently, New Zealand initiated a proposal to hold a South-West Pacific Heads of Maritime Forces Meeting aimed at developing coordination and capability, to test whether this would be a useful piece of architecture.
Maritime domain security is important to us, given that our Defence Force must cover a search and rescue zone that stretches from north of the Equator, all the way to the South Pole, halfway to Australia, and halfway to South America.
We also work hard to make sure we contribute to the shaping of discussions around global threats, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
In the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM+) we are working with our partner the Phillipines to shape the region’s response to cyber attacks through the inaugural Experts’ Working Group on Cyber Security.
This Working Group will draw on the comprehensive work from the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, amongst others.
This is a sensitive topic for all, and there will be a variety of approaches to how states individually respond to cyber threats.
However, we are confident that with the opportunity for frank discussion as provided by regional security institutions like the ADMM+, we can achieve collective outcomes.
Multilateral platforms provide small states with the ability to be part of a collective approach that contributes to regional and global solutions.
Advancing the role of small states has always been a priority for New Zealand.
For example, in the year 2000, the Pacific Islands Forum faced a security environment which had deteriorated to a point where patterns of lawlessness, political upheaval and economic uncertainty were the norm.
The Forum adopted a comprehensive collective responsibility approach, and a key result was the Biketawa Declaration.
This Declaration codifies a number of guiding principles, including equal rights for all citizens, the importance of equitable economic, social and cultural development and a commitment to good governance, including democratic processes, institutions and the rule of law.
The Pacific Islands countries collectively built the possibility of a regional response in the form of the Declaration and with the help of others, including Australia and New Zealand.
This instituted mechanisms to support the rules-based order.
With this came action, and progress.
Many of you will be aware that the withdrawal of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) occurs this month, after 14 years.
RAMSI was established in 2003 at the request of the Solomon Islands Government, under the auspices of the Biketawa Declaration.
It followed a five-year period of destabilising conflict in the Solomons, known as “The Tensions”.
RAMSI’s mandate was to restore civil order, stabilise government finances, promote longer-term economic recovery and rebuild the Solomon Islands’ machinery of government.
New Zealand is also committed to collective responses to threats outside of our immediate region.
We recognise the interdependency between global threats and the security of our “neighbourhood”.
We recognise, for example, that the threat of ISIS is a threat to our regional security, the tenets of international law and a rules-based order.
It is in response to these imperatives that we contribute to countering the threat of ISIS by both military and non-military means.
In 2015, together with our Australian partners, New Zealand formally established its Building Partner Capacity training mission in Iraq, as part of the United States-led Operation Inherent Resolve.
Our Joint Mission provides training to Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS.
The over-arching Operation Inherent Resolve is a prime example of contributions from across the globe, large and small, to collective responsibility and international cooperation.
We have joined over 60 countries in the US-led coalition, including a plethora of small states from Slovenia to Qatar and Bahrain.
We are all able to contribute in a diverse range of ways.
From the Pacific Islands to Iraq, Syria and beyond, the value of collective responsibility is apparent.
A strong multilateral system provides the opportunity for small states to contribute to broader conversations.
Small states can bring a perspective and view that can help build and develop responses to some of the world’s biggest threats.
New Zealand’s approach to security is grounded in the conduct of constructive discussions paired with real action.
We will continue to work towards an environment where all states can make credible contributions, which will strengthen the resilience of the regional security architecture, and its ability to counter global threats.
I believe there are always opportunities for progress, even in discord.
The Government in which I’m proud to serve is very firm in its belief that it is critical for New Zealand’s future that we remain outward-looking and engaged with the world.
We take an optimistic view, and reject the thinking that we have reached a point where our threats have overwhelmed our opportunities.
That optimism is the story of the Asia-Pacific; the engine of world economic growth for the last 50 years.
It is the story of ASEAN; a body that has brought peace and harmony to a region previously rocked by conflict.
It is a powerful story of struggle, challenge, passion and success.
The next chapter is being written and we all have a hand on the pen.
What we write is what our children will read.
We must get it right.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell and his Indonesian counterpart, Ryamizard Ryacudu have signed a Joint Statement on Defence Relations today, signalling stronger defence ties between the two countries.
Meeting in Jakarta today, the Ministers confirmed the value the two countries place on the bilateral defence relationship, and identified a range of areas of cooperation to further strengthen it.
Mr Mitchell says that Indonesia plays a fundamental role in supporting security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
“That is why we value the relationship,” he says.
“We’ve had the opportunity today to discuss regional security issues and affirm our mutual commitment to bilateral defence cooperation.
“We also discussed exploring options for Indonesia and New Zealand to develop a more formal framework for both our current defence cooperation and to guide future engagement.”
Mr Mitchell travels to Singapore tomorrow to attend the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Defence Ministers’ Meeting, and to speak at the Shangri-La Dialogue later in the week.
The Joint Statement is available at here.
Joint Statement Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Indonesia and the Ministry of Defence of New Zealand on Defence Relations
Indonesian Minister of Defense, Ryamizard Ryacudu, and New Zealand Minister of Defence, Mark Mitchell, met for the first time today, on 31st of May 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Both Ministers reiterated that Indonesia and New Zealand enjoy a strong bilateral relationship and defence cooperation is an important component of that. Ministers confirmed the value both sides place on the bilateral defence relationship and committed to strengthening it. Several areas of cooperation that have been identified by both Ministers to strengthen the defence relations of Indonesia and New Zealand are as follows:
a. Bilateral visits and military exchanges, military ship visits, exercises, or other activities, particularly between the Indonesian National Armed Forces and the New Zealand Defence Force;
b. Exchange of intelligence information in the field of defence, including the exchange of information, training, and study visits;
c. Provision of training and education of military personnel;
d. Regular bilateral defence talks;
e. Exchange of lessons learned and best practices concerning peacekeeping operations;
f. Conduct of logistical support in support of mutually agreed bilateral activities;
g. Activities to enhance and broaden the interaction between their respective military cultures;
h. Provision of emergency assistance; and any other defence cooperation activities; and
i. Any other defence related cooperation activities that may be mutually agreed.
Both Ministers acknowledged the port visit of frigate HMNZS Te Kaha to Jakarta, and the visit of KRI BANDA ACEH to attend the Royal New Zealand Navy 75th Anniversary and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus Maritime and Counter Terrorism Exercise Mahi Tangaroa.
These visits reinforced the positive bilateral defence relationship, that also includes training and education linkages between Indonesia and New Zealand Armed Forces and regular defence talks between Ministries of Defence.
Ministers also affirmed both Indonesia and New Zealand have a shared interest in the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific. Ministers emphasised the importance of regional security architecture, such as ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, for building regional confidence and security cooperation.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell will travel to Indonesia and Singapore this week to attend a range of meetings on defence and security matters.
Mr Mitchell will visit Indonesia from 30-31 May. While there he will meet his Defence counterpart General (Rtd) Ryamizard Ryacudu.
The two Ministers will sign a joint statement confirming the value both countries place on the bilateral defence relationship. As well as cooperating bilaterally, New Zealand and Indonesia work closely together in regional security groupings.
Mr Mitchell will continue on to Singapore to attend the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Defence Ministers’ Meeting, and speak at the Shangri-La Dialogue later in the week.
“The FPDA forms our oldest and closest defence agreement in the region. New Zealand is committed to these arrangements, which in a time of regional uncertainty provide leadership and stability,” Mr Mitchell says.
Along with ministers and defence principals from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Mr Mitchell will review the recently-completed FPDA exercise, Bersama Shield.
This exercise was held in Singapore and Malaysian waters and included the New Zealand Defence Force frigate HMNZS Te Kaha, tanker HMNZS Endeavour, a P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, and 283 Defence Force personnel.
At the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, Mr Mitchell will have the opportunity to meet with Defence Ministers from across the region and intends to speak about global threats and regional security.
“This speech provides the opportunity to showcase a New Zealand perspective on security issues, and reflect on the role of small states, like ours, in addressing global challenges,” Mr Mitchell says.