The New Zealand Defence White Paper 2016, issued on 8 June 2016 after a substantial delay, sets out defence policy for the next 25 years.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee described the White Paper as outlining a 15-year modernisation plan worth nearly $20 billion, to ensure the New Zealand Defence Force has the capabilities it needs to meet the country’s security and defence challenges.
The reality is very different. The White Paper does not propose any real increase in defence spending. Virtually all of the proposed “investment” is funding already allocated and required to maintain and operate the legacy force structure. There is no funding for new or replacement equipment and no real commitment to replace the current aging or already obsolete equipment. Present and projected funding will be insufficient for any major acquisitions.
The likely consequence of another 15 years of underfunding will be that the Defence Force will be unable to afford replacement equipment, and a block obsolescence of New Zealand defence assets, with a continuing decline in operational capabilities.