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

Censor was also quick to censor the attacker’s manifesto36 as the government was to ban and set in place a buyback for a variety of firearms in direct response to the attack and as a firm endeavour to increase the safety of the community. In the international sphere, the New Zealand Government has pursued the Christchurch Call to ask other governments and global online service providers to begin to address the issue of extremist and terrorist content being available online. Eighteen nations and some large online service providers (e.g., Google, Face­book, Twitter, and Amazon) have made a commitment to develop infrastructures to counter violent extremism online.37

Of all the actions coming out of Christchurch, crucially, it will be the Royal Commis­sion of Inquiry’s findings that is likely to set the direction for a political discussion around whether additional government action or reform might need to occur that will impact the national security sector. In particular its consideration of what was known and could have been done about the attack and then in terms of what the terms of reference state as “…what additional measures should be taken by relevant state sector agencies to prevent such attacks in the future.”38 At this stage, one can only guess at what the Inquiry will find. Nevertheless, we can be sure that the results of the inquiry will influence future national security direction and infrastructure and, when they come out, they will require close scrutiny from decision makers, scholars, the public and New Zealand’s Muslim community. It is likely that we will see recommendations influencing national security policy around a number of areas including immigration, counter ter­rorism mechanisms, legislative change and social cohesion.

Turning now to look to some of the other evolutions in local national security we dis­cuss defence and biosecurity. In terms of defence issues, the last two years have seen a continued commitment to the Building Partner Capacity mission in Iraq and engage­ment in Afghanistan.39 Although, it has been signalled that the Iraq deployment will cease in 2020 and the ongoing Afghanistan deployment will change focus.40 Through this period, the government has given regular attention to the role and investment in provisioning of the NZDF through the Strategic Defence Policy Statement41 and the De­fence Capability Plan 2019.42 Both documents, signal an intention for defence priorities to be aligned with the Pacific Reset and for interoperable compatibility with our Five Eyes partners. The refreshment of the defence asset base and a detailed discussion of re­gion tensions between major powers and the future effects of climate change on the Pa­cific are the dominant foci of these documents.43 Nevertheless, there remains a tension about the role of the NZDF, with the emphasis on regional humanitarian and disaster relief functions, maritime patrol, and combat capability roles all having to be carefully balanced in the future.44

More controversially, allegations in the book Hit and Run45, written by investigative journalists Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager, have led to an Inquiry into Operation Burn­ham46 which investigates an action of the New Zealand Special Operation Forces (NZ­SOF) in Afghanistan. The results of this Inquiry are due to be reported to the