Defence Force facilities 'run down and outdated', minister acknowledges

New Zealand Defence Force sites and buildings are "run down and outdated", says Minister Ron Mark, who released the terms of reference for the defence estate review today.

Defence Minister Ron Mark. Source: 1 NEWS

"With the changing demands and priorities on the Defence Force here and overseas, I need to know what our footprint should look like in 2070, so we can begin to plan a way to get there," Mr Mark said. 

"The 81,000 hectare defence estate is at a crossroads; much of it is run down and outdated."

The terms of reference gives a timeline of the review, with a Cabinet paper on the outcome of the review to be submitted by September of next year. It also says the intention is to make the estate "future proofed, aiding long-term investment decision-making".

"While it is important we undertake a long-term strategic review of the estate, it is also essential to keep investing in what we have so we don’t fall even further behind," Mr Mark said.

"This is why the Government has also approved a revamped regeneration plan. This Government is committed to improving the defence estate and has agreed to an increase in the indicative funding required from $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion to 2030. This funding is part of the overall $20 billion investment identified in the Defence Capability Plan released in June.

However, National said conducting another review showed mismanagement by the Government, putting "an extremely important issue down the road for another day". 

"Defence Estate spending isn’t sexy or popular, but it’s long overdue and is very important," defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell said. 

Mr Mitchell spoke about his concerns of the estate when the Defence Force released its $20 billion planned investments to 2030 in its capability plan last month.

At the time, his only criticism was he thought the Government were "ignoring" the Defence Estate Regeneration - the framework for management and use of defence infrastructure and facilities. 

"This review is nothing but a costly timewasting exercise. It looks like Mr Mark hasn’t been able to hold the sway necessary with his Cabinet colleagues to get this vitally important investment programme underway."

Mr Mark said the review and investment in the defence estate would create "better working, training and living conditions". 

"The welfare of our Defence Force personnel is a priority for me. We need acceptable facilities in order to support and retain them."