"Defence assets and personnel must be well prepared and ready to respond to whatever tasks the Government expects of them. This applies to both overseas deployments and events closer to home when the Defence Force is required to provide assistance to our communities, and to undertake resource and border protection operations.
"We've seen a big increase in adverse weather events in the Pacific in the last few years, driven by climate change. Today's announcement provides certainty to our friends in the Pacific that New Zealand is ready and able to respond in their times of need."
The funding announced today is also "a huge win" for conservation, the environment and fisheries protection, Mark said, especially with rising pressures on scarce resources, especially in the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean.
Alongside the increase of $324.1m in the Defence Force operating budget, Budget 2018 also sees:
• $41.3m additional capital investment for the first tranche of investment under the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme Plan.
• An additional $22.6m operating funding over the next four years and $1m capital funding for the Defence Force to deliver the enhanced Limited Service Volunteer programme (supported by a related investment of $4.2m over the next four years for the Ministry of Social Development to administer the programme).
• $6.3m in 2018/19 for the repatriation of the remains of service personnel and their dependents for those buried overseas since 1955.
• $13.6m over the next four years set aside for new capabilities.
"This is a ringing endorsement of the Defence Force from the Coalition Government. It recognises the value it provides New Zealand and its meaningful contributions to peace and security around the world," says Mark.