“Numbers are dropping in the New Zealand Defence Force as personnel are faced with poor pay, poor dwellings, and poor leadership from the Minister,” says ACT’s Defence spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“NZDF is experiencing increasing attrition rates across all three branches, driven by poor pay and living conditions.

“An internal surveyobtained by ACT through Official Information Act requests shows that only 41 per cent of army personnel are not actively looking at leaving the New Zealand Defence Force. While 54 per cent did not agree that the pay they receive is fair.

“I’ve also received complaints from personnel who are perturbed by the poor conditions they’re expected to live in, with many residences not being up to the Government’s own Healthy Homes standards.

“Our defence force is full of hardworking patriotic Kiwis who want to protect and serve for their country, but Labour seems to think they serve on patriotism alone. the Government needs to acknowledge their service and back them with the resources and pay they deserve.

“These issues are having a serious impact. Written Parliamentary Questions (WPQs) revealed by ACT show that between 2017 and 2021, there were 84 different job types – ranging from infantry to the trades – that failed to meet enlistment targets; many of which are also at risk of not meeting the 2022 enlistment target.

WPQs released to ACT also reveal that 653 NZDF personnel involved in Operation Protect, NZDF’s COVID response operation, have since chosen to voluntarily exit the military.  

“It has also been reported that Brigadier Matt Weston told Minister Henare in a briefing that attrition rates are “increasing month on month” and "In some areas and trades where the job market is especially buoyant, it is over 20 percent."

“The warnings have all been there, but the Minister refuses to act.

“ACT says we should demonstrate the same commitments as our traditional allies and increase our defence spending to two per cent of GDP. It would see $7.5 billion in extra capital expenditure over the next four years, this is almost double what Labour would spend.

“We need to give our brave men and women the tools and resources they need. This kind of targeted spending would send a message to our defence personnel that we value their service, and to the rest of the world that we take our defence obligations seriously.”

Please find WPQs 24680, 24681, 24682, 24683, 21377 regarding enlistment targets here.

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James McDowall