Since the Ardern government took office, we've been treated to a veritable deluge of publically launched defence policy documents. Minister Ron Mark has had no need of a new White Paper – the next one is due no earlier than 2021. But last year he launched something arguably just as significant in a Strategic Policy Statement which changed New Zealand's tune on China and paved the way for the purchase of the P8 maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft.
The government’s ambitious remit for the defence force has since been spelled out in a new Defence Capability Plan. There are now so many major projects (many exceeding $1billion) that one has to wonder about the breaking point for the purse-strings of future governments. And that’s not all for readers of defence policy pronouncements. Last year saw the first edition of a new series of Assessments explain how defence was taking climate change seriously, including in the Pacific. Jointly released by James Shaw, this was one way for Mr Mark to thank the Greens for their agreement to some of the above, including expensive aircraft good at finding submarines.