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New Zealand Defence: Acknowledging Cybersecurity and Innovation

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Hon. Judith Collins, the Minister of Defence, delivered a keynote address at the prestigious Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence for Industry, an event dedicated to recognising and celebrating innovation in the technology sector.

She understands the event’s importance, recognising its role in honouring businesses from New Zealand and abroad for their exceptional commitment to Defence, thus bolstering the NZDF’s ability to protect national interests. The ceremony, esteemed by both industry and government, serves as a platform to commend businesses for their outstanding contributions to the NZDF and the Ministry of Defence.

Minister Collins articulated her core focus areas since assuming office as the Minister of Defence, appreciating the privilege she felt in steering the nation’s defence strategy. In this capacity, She understands the pivotal role of technology in modernising defence strategies and ensuring national security in the face of evolving geopolitical challenges.

Against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving strategic environment, she stressed the critical need for robust defence capabilities to counter emerging threats effectively. Drawing attention to global events such as Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, Minister Collins underscored the importance of upholding the international rules-based order and defending New Zealand’s national interests in collaboration with key allies.

The Minister underscored the government’s unwavering commitment to supporting global security initiatives, including the defence of Ukraine and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, signalling New Zealand’s proactive stance in safeguarding global peace and stability. She stressed the importance of strong bilateral and multilateral partnerships, particularly with Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, in addressing shared security challenges and fostering regional cooperation.

In the context of the evolving strategic landscape, Minister Collins outlined her priorities for strengthening New Zealand’s defence capabilities. Cognisant of the challenges posed by the current Defence Capability Plan, she announced plans to accelerate the development of a new plan to provide industry stakeholders with the necessary certainty and guidance for future investments and collaborations. She emphasised the importance of industry engagement in shaping defence policy and strategy, advocating for a collaborative approach to address the nation’s defence needs effectively.

Addressing concerns about the ageing Defence Estate infrastructure, Minister Collins reaffirmed the government’s willingness to explore innovative solutions, including Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), to modernise and upgrade existing facilities. She stressed the importance of private sector investment in supporting Defence infrastructure projects, underlining the potential for PPPs to drive innovation and efficiency in delivering high-quality infrastructure for the NZDF.

Looking ahead, Minister Collins is keenly aware of the transformative role of technology in shaping the future of defence capabilities. She underscored the government’s commitment to fostering innovation and research in advanced technologies, citing examples from the space sector where New Zealand has gained a competitive edge through groundbreaking research in areas such as hypersonics and quantum computing.

However, Minister Collins cautioned against emerging cybersecurity threats, emphasising the need for robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard critical defence infrastructure and networks. She reiterated the government’s commitment to strengthening cybersecurity resilience and collaboration with industry partners to address evolving cyber threats effectively.

Minister Collins commended the finalists and winners of the awards for their exemplary contributions to the NZDF and Ministry of Defence, praising their dedication and innovation in advancing New Zealand’s defence capabilities. She expressed her gratitude for their invaluable service and commitment to safeguarding the nation’s security and prosperity, reaffirming the government’s unwavering support for the defence industry and its vital role in ensuring New Zealand’s sovereignty and security in an increasingly complex global environment.

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