The Changing New Zealand National Security Environment: New Threats, New Structures, and New Research

Author: Hoverd, W.J.
Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019

in the national security system no longer exist; both the Official’s Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination – Governance (ODESC-G) and the Strategic Risk and Resilience Panel (SRRP) were dissolved in 2017. The refresh was to be a priority for DPMC before the Christchurch attack. But today, it is difficult to determine what effect the Christchurch attack and the Royal Commission will have on such priorities, particularly if the Commission were to recommend structural change at the highest national levels.

Turning to investigating these National Security System changes further. ODESC-G was a Chief Executive Governance Group which met regularly to identify and prioritise national security concerns.67 The SRRP was a committee of independent members from outside government whose function was to provide ODESC-G with advice by critically assessing its national security priorities.68 Understandably, the role of the ODESC-G has been somewhat rolled up into the ODESC meetings which directly report to Cabinet.69 It is also understandable that SRRP, whose role was to advise ODESC-G, would be removed as it no longer had a committee to which it needed to report. Nevertheless, the loss of an independent advice function is regrettable and perhaps in the future should be revisited. In 2018, the IGIS appointed such an independent reference panel of experts to broaden that office’s access to independent advice and thought leadership.70

The emergency management aspect of national security has yet to receive significant attention. In November 2017, it was recommended that Civil Defence and Emergency Management be reformed into the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).71 The proposal is to increasingly shift to a proactive system of emergency management.72 This project acknowledges that there are significant coordination mechanisms that need to be streamlined both in terms of national systems and centres as well as through local coordination at the regional level through mayors and iwi.73 The NEMA function is a fundamental subset of the national security system as, through both its central and regional apparatus, it provides the environmental support required for domestic national security events. And if we take the example of Christchurch, we see that these apparatus are not just utilised in response to natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes, but they were also heavily relied upon in the terror attacks. In the near future, the Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) Response Framework Edition Three will be published furthering our understanding of this dimension of national security. It remains to be seen how effectively NEMA will work alongside designated lead agencies when the national security system is next activated.

National Security Research

While the local and global security contexts have moved rapidly since 2017, the national security research field has moved slowly. Robust social scientific research agendas are hamstrung by the challenge of developing an evidentiary basis. The field of study is a classified domain of government knowledge and operations and secrecy