Nationals Chris Penk tells Australian TV show hes embarrassed for New Zealand after Defence essay controversy

Rallying against “woke culture” and arguing the Army “cannot reconcile a more diverse and inclusive workforce with the maintenance of a warrior ethos and war-fighting culture”, the text pushed back on “identity-based notions of Diversity”. 

However, this week it was removed from the website and replaced with a message from Chief of Army Major General John Boswell apologising “to all those who saw publication of this essay as an endorsement of the views that were contained within it”.

It then emerged that Henare had spoken to Chief of Defence Air Marshal Kevin Short about the piece, reminding him of the Defence Force’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

That sparked anger from National and ACT MPs, who accused the minister of interference and for having his priorities out of whack.

But Henare’s office later confirmed to Newshub that his conversation with Short came after the piece was removed and the minister had no involvement with the decision to take it down. He didn’t give any instructions to Short.

On Friday night, Penk, National’s Defence spokesperson, went on Sky News’ Credlin show, to express his frustration. 

“It is quite extraordinary, and the really interesting thing is that the soldier has been proven correct. Cancel culture, of course, being a key aspect of the wokeness against which he was railing in the first place,” he told host Peta Credlin, the former Chief of Staff to former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. 

“Quite extraordinary really, when you think as well, the Government minister, the Defence minister no less, has seen fit to weigh in and have his two cents’ worth, not that he had read the thing.”

Penk was staggered.

“I am a bit embarrassed, to be honest, from the perspective of New Zealand that our reputation is such that our allies can open the proverbial newspapers and see that the Defence Minister’s priority in an area of the world in which there is so much going on, regional tensions.”

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