Is there evidence of regular, active public debate on issues of defence? If yes, does the government participate in this debate?
6a. Public debate
New Zealand score: 75/100
Outside government, there is no or extremely limited public debate among academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate also addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, debate often addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, when debate occurs, it addresses high priority issues with intensity and in-depth discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate persists on high priority issues over a period of time, rather than being superficially addressed.
There is public debate on defence issues, although this is delineated between academics and the general public. One of the main avenues for debate is the quarterly magazine Line of Defence and the more general New Zealand Security Magazine, which are both published by Defsec Media Limited, an independent publisher . These regularly have columns and articles by academics, private sector individuals, and government employees, including ministers and shadow-ministers. Among academics, there is greater interest within the more established foreign affairs sector than with defence matters directly. This is seen in the relatively small academic community with a main focus on defence as opposed to security or politics and international relations. Only Massey University and Victoria University have centres with programmes that focus specifically on defence . Across the other New Zealand universities, academic units tend to focus on security-related topics in the spheres of international relations, conflict, and terrorism studies . Among the general public matters of defence are less frequently discussed. Debate that arises usually occurs upon the nearing of major events or decisions – especially regarding issues of procurement and casualties. An indication of this is seen in the absence of a Defence Correspondent within New Zealand’s largest newspaper The New Zealand Herald . This is replicated by New Zealand’s largest online news outlet, Stuff, as although it includes “more than 500 journalists” across the country, none could be found with a defence portfolio or designation (a request for confirmation by the Country Assessor went unanswered) . Arguably, the rationale for this situation could be due to New Zealand’s small defence footprint – there is no need for specialist defence-correspondents. The absence of specialist defence correspondents does not reflect a lack of public criticism of Defence, however it logically results in a journalistic field that is less informed and knowledgeable. Given New Zealand’s traditionally pacifist leanings this reality makes the Defence sector’s engagement with CSOs all the more important.
1. Defsec Media, “About Us”, accessed 18 June 2020, https://defsec.net.nz/our-publications/.
2. Centre for Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, accessed 17 June 2020, https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/strategic-studies; Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Massey University, accessed 17 June 2020, https://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/explore/departments/centre-defence-security-studies/centre-defence-security-studies_home.cfm.
3. School of Social Sciences, University of Waikato, “Welcome to Political Science and Public Policy”, accessed 17 June 2020, https://www.waikato.ac.nz/fass/about/social-sciences/political-science-and-public-policy; University of Otago, “Study Peace and Conflict Studies”, accessed 17 June 2020, https://www.otago.ac.nz/courses/subjects/peac.html; University of Auckland, “Conflict and terrorism Studies”, accessed 17 June 2020, https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/study/study-options/find-a-study-option/conflict-and-terrorism-studies.html
4. “Meet our journalists”, The New Zealand Herald, https://web.archive.org/web/20190828132529/https://www.nzherald.co.nz/journalists/.
5. “About Stuff”, Stuff, https://web.archive.org/web/20210516211339/https://www.stuff.co.nz/about-stuff.
6b. Government engagement in public discourse
New Zealand score: 100/100
There is no government engagement in public discourse about defence issues or official communications contain no meaningful information.
Where communication does occur, it is likely to be one-way: officials may provide some information but may not answer public questions.
The government engages in discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings. However this does not happen regularly, or may exclude very important issues that the government chooses to avoid.
The government engages in regular discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings.
The government engages in regular debate with academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues in collaborative ways. The government co-organises discussions with independent think tanks or civil society organisations, or through joint media briefings.
(Refer to Q6A, specifically articles within Line of Defence, with pieces written by government employees, this also usually includes interviews with defence personnel.) In 2017, the NZDF organised and hosted the 10th International Lessons Learned Conference, which saw in-depth debate and discussion on many wide-ranging factors impacting military operations and humanitarian and aid relief efforts. Guests included members of government agencies, academics, and independent specialists from around the globe but specifically Pacific Rim nations . The recent release of recommendations on the Burnham Inquiry is also evidence that the Government is conscious of the need to engage with, and inform, the public of defence issue that may be controversial. According to the MoD’s Statement of Intent 2018-2022, enhancing domestic engagement is a high priority such that it is currently developing a “strategy to enhance, direct and prioritise its engagement with stakeholders in New Zealand” . In particular this is aimed at those attending universities. The Ministry’s website is the key conduit through which it engages with the public as it regularly releases information on changes and updates related to capability decisions and deployments .
The NZDF has direct engagement with the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University and the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University. The MoD and NZDF contribute to higher research by sponsoring the prestigious Freyberg Scholarship each year and together with its other initiatives maintains a link with independent research and public opinion [4, 5]. According to the Intelligence Agencies themselves, they do engage with the media through media enquiries, press statements, and interviews. Academics produce research into the role of security and intelligence agencies, and universities run papers on related topics. Recently the Director-General, GCSB spoke to Otago University’s POLS213 on the GCSB’s role in supporting national security decision making. [6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]. A further example is of the inquiry into the 2016 Local Authority Elections initiated by the Justice and Electoral Committee of the previous Parliament. Subsequent to the end of that Parliament, in July 2018, the new Justice Committee resolved to consider the previous committee’s inquiry together with an inquiry into the 2017 General Election. The Director-General of Security and Director-General of the GCSB appeared before the inquiry twice, in April and August 2019 in order to make a submission relating to foreign interference. Public submissions were called for when the initial 2016 inquiry was initiated, and again when in July 2018 the new Justice Committee resolved to consider the previous committee’s inquiry together with an inquiry into the 2017 General Election. Submissions received for the inquiry into the 2016 Local Authority Elections were considered as part of the combined inquiry. In March 2019, the committee resolved to invite further submissions about how New Zealand could protect its democracy from inappropriate foreign interference. In total, the committee received submissions from 137 submitters. It heard oral evidence from 44 submitters between 25 October 2018 and 27 August 2019. At the conclusion of the inquiry the committee made 14 recommendations relating to the 2017 general election, 20 relating to local elections, and 21 relating to foreign interference [17, 18].
1. New Zealand Defence Force, “‘Lessons Learned’ Conference Reinforces NZDF Reputation in region”, 20 May 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20200128184247/http://nzdf.mil.nz/media-centre/news/2017/lessons-learned-conference-reinforces-nzdf-reputation-in-region-.htm. The Country Assessor was in attendance.
2. New Zealand Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Defence Statement of Intent 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2022 (Wellington: Ministry of Defence, 2018), p. 35, https://www.defence.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/4a59bb9d4a/mod-soi-2018-2022.pdf.
3. New Zealand Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Defence Statement of Intent 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2022 (Wellington: Ministry of Defence, 2018), p. 34.
4. Ministry of Defence, “Freyberg Scholarships”, https://www.defence.govt.nz/who-we-are/freyberg-scholarships/
5. Universities New Zealand, “Freyberg Scholarship”, https://www.universitiesnz.ac.nz/scholarships/freyberg-scholarship
6. Government Communications Security Bureau, “Speech: Cyber Security in a Covid-19 world”, 7 August 2020, https://www.gcsb.govt.nz/news/cyber-security-in-a-covid-19-world/
7. Laura Walters, “NZ ‘underprepared’ for election interference”, NEWSROOM, 23 September 2020, https://www.newsroom.co.nz/nz-underprepared-for-foreign-election-interference
8. Colin Peacock, “Dark money, democracy and the media”, RNZ, 30 August 2020, https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018761609/dark-money-democracy-and-the-media
9. Sam Sachdeva, “GCSB: No pressure on Huawei decision”, NEWSROOM, 20 February 2019, https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/02/20/453454/gcsb-no-pressure-on-huawei-decision
10. David Williams, “Govt urged to probe China’s influence”, NEWSROOM, 28 July 2020, https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/11/13/60044/govt-urged-to-probe-chinas-influence
11. “Professor Anne-Marie Brady”, University of Canterbury, https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/arts/contact-us/people/anne-marie-brady.html
12. “Course Outline POLS 231 ST”, Department of Politics, Otago University, https://www.otago.ac.nz/politics/otago079280.pdf
13. Security and Surveillance Project, Victoria University of Wellington, https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/stout-centre/research-units/security-and-surveillance-project
14. Government Communications Security Bureau, “GCSB’s role in supporting national security decision making”, 3 March 2020, https://www.gcsb.govt.nz/news/new-blog-pgcsbs-role-in-supporting-national-security-decision-makingost/.
15. New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, “Speech: Understanding Intelligence”, 18 September 2019, https://www.nzsis.govt.nz/news/speech-understanding-intelligence/.
16. Interview with a member of the New Zealand Intelligence Community, 30 September 2020, via email.
17. Justice Committee, Committee reports on inquiry into elections, 10 December 2019, https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/scl/justice/news-archive/committee-reports-on-inquiry-into-elections/.
18. New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, “Director-General remarks: Justice Select Committee Inquiry into the 2017 General Election and 2016 Local Elections (August 2019)”, 27 August 2019, https://www.nzsis.govt.nz/news/director-general-remarks-justice-select-committee-inquiry-into-the-2017-general-election-and-2016-local-elections-august-2019/.
Compare scores by country
Please view this page on a larger screen for the full stats.
|Country||6a. Public debate||6b. Government engagement in public discourse|
|Albania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Algeria||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Angola||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Argentina||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Armenia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Australia||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Azerbaijan||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Bahrain||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Bangladesh||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Belgium||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Botswana||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Brazil||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Burkina Faso||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Cameroon||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Canada||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Chile||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|China||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Colombia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Cote d'Ivoire||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Denmark||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Egypt||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Estonia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Finland||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|France||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Germany||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Ghana||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Greece||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Hungary||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|India||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Indonesia||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Iran||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Iraq||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Israel||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Italy||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Japan||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Jordan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kenya||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Kosovo||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kuwait||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Latvia||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Lebanon||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Lithuania||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Malaysia||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Mali||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Mexico||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Montenegro||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Morocco||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Myanmar||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Netherlands||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|New Zealand||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Niger||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Nigeria||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|North Macedonia||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Norway||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Oman||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Palestine||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Philippines||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Poland||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Portugal||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Qatar||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Russia||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Saudi Arabia||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Serbia||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Singapore||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|South Africa||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|South Korea||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|South Sudan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Spain||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Sudan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Sweden||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Switzerland||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Taiwan||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Tanzania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Thailand||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Tunisia||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Turkey||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Uganda||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Ukraine||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|United Arab Emirates||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|United Kingdom||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|United States||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Venezuela||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Zimbabwe||100 / 100||0 / 100|