Coleman gets a feel for new job

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 13:54 14/03/2012
Jonathan Coleman
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
TOUR OF DUTY: Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman is taken for a ride in a Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) at Linton Military Camp yesterday. He is halfway through a tour of the country's military bases.

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If morale among the military is truly at all-time lows, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman is yet to see it.

Speaking at Linton Military Camp yesterday during a tour of the country's military bases, Dr Coleman said the squads he talked to at Ohakea Air Force Base earlier that day seemed in great spirits.

"I talked to the crews with the NH-90s [new airforce helicopters] and they are in good spirits, but they're dealing with that new capability." He also took aim at those who thought military survey results – which found 80 per cent of those questioned were satisfied or better in their jobs, and 80 per cent were happy with their career choices – were not good enough.

"If you put those numbers to any other private or public company, management would be pretty happy," he said.

Savings made through job cuts and civilianising roles would possibly make their way back into "deployable capabilities", such as new equipment.

"The Government is right behind our people and we will make sure they can engage in their careers."

Dr Coleman said the trip around the bases was a way to get to know more about military culture.

He had just taken up the defence portfolio after the election, "and it's important to get around all the different military bases and be out on the front line [and] talk to the people doing the work".

"It's about coming to this as a person from a different background to get a sense of the culture," Dr Coleman said.

"It's not just the sexy bits like riding around in the equipment, but talking to people and understanding the pressures they are under ... to get in and understand and get a sense and picture about how the military thinks."

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