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Defence Matters

Speech by Rt Hon Winston Peters

Sunday 11th October 2020, 2pm

J A Russell Lounge, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North


Extract from Speech

“Defence Matters”


There is an integral part of our society, that often gets forgotten.  That often receives unfounded negativity from society and politics.  Yet they somehow are always the very first to be called upon when disaster strikes. 

The often-forgotten group of men and women, some based not so far from here – who play such a great part in the Manawatu, in New Zealand and the globe.  These are the men and women of our Defence Force. 

When our country – or others in the Pacific, need help, need backup, a clean-up, security or assistance in a moment of disaster - the men and women of our defence force are the ones that are called upon.  In a Pacific environmental crisis, or when our Antarctic waters or our exclusive economic zone are under threat from illegal fishing, who do we call first?  We expect our Defence Forces to respond – and they do. 

Whether it be safeguarding our territory and sovereignty, aiding our neighbours in the Pacific, or even supporting our nation during a civil emergency, our Defence Force plays a real role in keeping us safe. That is why policy must reflect this, so that our Defence Force can adapt to the changing landscape of our modern world.

Our defence force is essential in the context of COVID-19. 

New Zealand First believes that border quarantine facilities should be at our military bases.  That is where we have the equipment, facilities and most importantly the right personnel to hold quarantined people – without some dangerously escaping and putting our country at risk.

That is why at the beginning of the COVID crisis, we brought people out of Wuhan – the source of COVID – and put them in a military facility north of Auckland.  

New Zealand First believes that Defence Personnel should not be low-paid. 

That is why we are today announcing our policy of a 5% pay-rise for all New Zealand Defence Force military personnel.  It’s not enough – but it’s a start. 

Key Points:

  • Cost is $50.5 million per year
  • The start of a pathway to pay parity with Australian Defence Personnel
  • It recognises that workloads will increase due to COVID
  • It recognises that responsibilities within the Pacific through COVID will increase
  • It will increase skills retention and incentivise job recruitment.


Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First

[email protected]

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