Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones. File
photo / Greg Bowker
The head of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys
Jones, has not been reappointed to his role, the Labour Party
The seasoned officer has been in the role since January 2011,
when Prime Minister John Key appointed him for a three-year
term - rather than the usual five - in order to monitor
progress in a major review of Defence Force spending.
Labour Party Defence spokesman Phil Goff said the Government
was yet to announce its decision not to reappoint Lieutenant
General Jones to the role.
The Government was attempting to "scapegoat'' Lieutenant
General Jones for multiple failures in the New Zealand
Defence Force, Mr Goff said.
"The recent safety review of the Defence Force is a clear
example. That report points out that for two years the
Government has not implemented the key recommendations of the
last safety report, the 2011 Cosman Review.
"The Minister is responsible for oversight of the Defence
Force's actions or inactions. He must have read the Cosman
Review, but apparently never raised questions as to why it
was not acted upon.''
The review, by health and safety analyst Mike Cosman, found
gaps in the force's health and safety policies that needed to
Mr Goff said Defence Force Minister Jonathan Coleman had
repeatedly denied cost cutting, restructuring and high
attrition had any impact on accidents in the Defence Force's
"Yet the report refers to all of these as factors in the poor
safety record of the Defence Force.
"The latest report is a real cause for concern. Its finding,
for example, that up to 5 per cent of all Navy lifejackets
did not have the required inflation devices attached to them
is a reflection on the state of New Zealand's Defence Force
under this National Government,'' Mr Goff said.
When Lieutenant General Jones was appointed, Mr Key said his
term in the role was likely to be extended if his management
of the process of cutting Defence Force spending was
He was tasked to cut $400 million a year.
Mr Key appointed Lieutenant General Jones to the shorter
three-year period primarily because of "the big job'' in
relation to the "value for money'' exercise the Defence Force
was to undergo.
"We want to make sure we're in a position to monitor that
progress,'' Mr Key said at the time.
A 2010 policy review suggested significant changes to every
arm of the Defence Force to gain greater efficiencies of
operation from a severely constrained state purse.
Lieutenant General Jones, 53, enlisted with the Army in 1978,
graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon,
Australia in 1982 and has held a variety of operational,
training and senior command roles.