Conscientious exemption at work

NZ Herald 1 March 2015
New Zealand troops will be allowed to “opt out” of going to Iraq.

Five days after Prime Minister John Key announced 143 personnel would be sent to the Middle East to train Iraqi forces in the war on Islamic State fighters, the Defence Force has confirmed soldiers will be given the chance to withdraw from the controversial deployment.

The Defence Force says it is part of being a “good employer”.

In a statement to the Herald on Sunday, a Defence Force spokesman said military personnel could indicate “any matters” they believed made them unsuitable for the mission, including personal or family circumstances.

Consideration would also be given to any troops who said they didn’t want to go to Iraq on ethical grounds.

“The same consideration would be given as that applied to any other issue that may impact on their ability to deploy,” the spokesman said.

“Personnel may at times indicate personal or other circumstances that could impact on their ability to deploy. As has been the case with most employers, NZDF has become increasingly aware of the effect of individual personal circumstances on the performance and overall wellbeing of its people.”

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