Time for a National Security Strategy

Author: Rothery, C.
Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019

services are available to the impacted communities. The Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002, is the legislation that provided the guidance to the national, regional and local organisations for their role and authority during an event. An important document that brings the legislation of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002 into practice is the National CDEM Plan 2015. The plan “aims to integrate and align agencies CDEM planning and related operational activities at the national level”.10 The National CDEM Plan 2015 is effectively an operational execution document providing information to a wide range of government departments and businesses for the coordination at the national level. It articulated the key responsibilities for each agency, the operational arrangements with other agencies and what function they are expected to make in response to an event.

Counter Terrorism

The recent terrorist attack in New Zealand demonstrated how the violent acts of even just one person can have significant impacts on the citizens of the whole country. Prior to the events of 15 March in Christchurch, New Zealand had experienced direct terrorist attacks, but few of them have been retained in the nation’s collective memory. The Rainbow Warrior bombing in 1985, as well as the earlier bombings of the Wellington Trades Hall and the National Police Computer Centre in Wanganui, were all domestic terrorist attacks. While New Zealand has developed some legislation and policy surrounding the threat of terrorism, these documents are old and have not kept pace with the rapid evolution and development of global terrorism and its risks to New Zealand. Under the seven overarching national security objectives contained within the NSS Handbook, terrorism is not directly referred to. Instead it comes under the objective of “protecting the physical security of New Zealand Citizens”.11 Apart from the legislation that provides organisations the authority to manage terrorism, there lacks a strategic plan that expresses how this risk will be mitigated by New Zealand security organisations. There is a section on Counter Terrorism (CT) in the National CDEM Plan 2015. It articulates how the strategic aim of New Zealand’s CT effort is to ensure that New Zealand is ‘neither the victim nor the source of an act of terrorism’.12 It sets out how the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG), within the NZSIS, assesses terrorist activities and how this is then disseminated to other agencies. There is no single government agency that is identified as being solely responsible for CT, instead CDEM and the National Security System Directorate within DPMC, appear to be the two agencies responsible for the delivery of CT coordination. In addition, the Ministry of Justice (MJ) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) are the two agencies responsible for administering the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 and the New Zealand Police are the lead agency for any terrorist threat that emerges within New Zealand.13 This dispersed nature of responsibility between the NSS, CDEM, MFAT, the New Zealand Police and the MJ is a very messy approach to dealing with any terrorist threat. With all these different agencies holding different responsibilities, it is difficult to see how the CT framework can be effective.