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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
Program 1-FORCES EXECUTIVE
- Committee Name
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
Program 1-FORCES EXECUTIVE
SENATOR ROBERT RAY
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL
- Sub program
- System Id
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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
(SENATE-Tuesday, 18 September 1990)
- Start of Business
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
- Subprogram 5.1-Country programs
- Subprogram 5.2-Global programs
- Subprogram 5.3-Corporate services
Program 6-CORPORATE AND PUBLIC SERVICES
- Subprogram 6.1-Executive management
- Subprogram 6.2-Corporate services
- Subprogram 6.3-Overseas support services
- Program 5-AID
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
SENATOR ROBERT RAY
Program 1-FORCES EXECUTIVE
- Subprogram 1.1-Operations and plans
- Subprogram 1.2-Military strategic and force development
- Subprogram 1.3-Personnel
- Subprogram 1.4-Health policy and services
- Subprogram 1.8-Defence force retirement and death benefits
- Subprogram 1.9-Defence housing
- Program 2-NAVY
- Program 3-ARMY
- Program 4-AIR FORCE
- SENATOR DURACK
Content WindowESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
Program 1-FORCES EXECUTIVE
SENATOR NEWMAN -On page 43 there is an item which relates to variations in rank composition and mix following transfer of functions to/from other programs. It is a decrease of $688,000. Could I get some more detail about that item?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -I do not have the detail readily available but, in essence , the personnel subprogram is reflecting the incorporation of the Defence Academy where the numbers are very low. So the per capitas change. I suspect that, overall, that particular figure once again reflects adjustments between programs.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Perhaps you might be able to give me that later. On page 45, under the heading `Outcome for 1989-90', item b. relates to the release of a new advertising campaign entitled, `The Bottom Line', which was directed at employers of potential and reserving Reserve members. It was intended to demonstrate to employers that they would gain from their employees being members of the Reserve. What was the total cost of that advertising campaign?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I am sorry, we do not have that figure. I think we might send someone out to find it rather than take it on notice. Does that suit you?
SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you. I also want to get some comprehensive details of how the campaign is operating and what measures are in place to evaluate it.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The advertising campaign is not so much something that you see on your television screen but rather an initiative started by the committee of employer support for the Reserve forces. It is actioned through their various State committees. It is done through approaches to employers. It impresses upon them the benefits of having their people join the Reserve. It is funded from the funds that are made available to the committee for employer support for the Reserve forces. I do not have any detailed figures. However, the effectiveness of the program was discussed at a recent meeting of the committee which was held in New South Wales about two weeks ago. I have not yet got the minutes from that particular meeting.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Does that mean that you have no way of knowing how successful it has been?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -We will not really know until we see the results in members joining the Reserve forces. But it is not unusual; it goes on every year through that committee. It is just that this time a slogan has been put to it.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Nevertheless, if it is worth doing I presume it is worth doing only because it works. We are having a lot of trouble retaining our Reserves. Do we know whether it is cost effective? How do we judge? What are the bases on which you will decide whether the campaign is working?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -We can judge that only when we see the recruiting figures.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Well, it cannot have been doing much good until now.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I do not think I can comment on that yet.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Officers will not comment on editorial comments from--
SENATOR NEWMAN -I am not asking for an editorial comment, Minister. I think you misunderstood the question. The question is--
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -It was not a question; it was your editorial comment.
SENATOR NEWMAN -My editorial comment?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Yes.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Let me put it into a question then.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Thank you.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Air Vice-Marshal Roser, you would acknowledge--
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -No, through me.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Sorry, Minister, you would acknowledge-and I hope the Air Vice -Marshal will also acknowledge-that we are continuing to lose a high number of reservists.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -The figures were unsatisfactory in regard to the level at which we failed to retain reservists, especially in the first two years. A lot of work has been put in and will come to fruition later this year, in my view . It could come even earlier than that except that at the moment we are still looking at the concepts enunciated in the Wrigley report. The report from the Joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee is promised for December this year , plus we have had a fair amount of independent work going on in the Department, pulling the strands of those three things together. I think we will see a lot of changes in the way in which we approach reserves, et cetera. That does not get away from your question about the efficacy or the effectiveness of advertising. I would agree with Air Vice-Marshal Roser that one of the indicators as to how well it has worked is in recruiting numbers, but even that has so many other variables in it that any performance indicator on an advertising campaign is very hard to prove in the end. If you do not believe me, ask Tony Eggleton.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I thank you, Minister, for your answer, but you did not mention the Auditor-General's recent report.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -That was another valuable link.
SENATOR NEWMAN -That demonstrates clearly that, if 19 per cent of the reservists drop out before they are finished their basic training and if we lose 53 per cent or something in the first two years, either we have failed in our recruiting or we have failed in our efforts to keep them in and one part of that must be employer support. Therefore I think it is a pretty fair question to want to know exactly how much this advertising campaign which is directed to reservists is costing us. There must be some form of measurement as to whether it is worth while at all?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Yes, I agree with both propositions but again I would qualify it by asking just how accurately you can measure the success from advertising campaigns. Certainly, you should set up and have some indicators and some idea of its effectiveness but it is not something you can quantify empirically and absolutely. That is all I am saying. By the end of this evening I am hoping to get the figures on the cost of that.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I hope that measures could be devised to test effectiveness. After all, commercial enterprises do not advertise unless they believe it is going to be cost-effective. I would not see the defence forces or the Defence Department using advertising willy-nilly without working out how effective it was.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -No-one advertises without hoping, first of all, that it would be effective, including private enterprise as well as the Defence Department, but the facility and capacity to evaluate how successful the advertisements have been is still not a precise science, hence so much wasted money on advertising right across the spectrum, either by government or by private industry. You have to use your best judgment as to how the campaign has gone and rely on advice as to how effective it has been. The empirical evidence, if you are selling soap powder would be sales, I guess. One of the factors, provided nothing else is operating there, would be recruiting numbers , but we are facing societal changes that may make serving in the Reserve less attractive than ever before-or the armed forces.
SENATOR NEWMAN -We are not having trouble recruiting them-it is keeping them.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Again, that may be partly to do with employer attitude; it may be to do with the way in which we organise the Reserves. All those things are on the negotiating table right now for a long term look, but it also can be a different attitude in society as to commitment.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I would certainly like to see the Department move to a better evaluation of all the advertising it does and I would hope that at the next Estimates the Department could advise the Committee of what measures it has been putting in place to assess the value that it is getting from its advertising of all kinds.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I think that is a very fair question, and having now drawn it to the Department's attention the Department should have a close look at it. I have only ever had one sustained discussion about these areas so far with people in the Department but I will be having some more. Again, I just say that you cannot get absolutely empirical evidence of how successful a campaign is, but you must be satisfied that it is having some effectiveness, I agree.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you Minister. Could I move to page 46? Item (xv) relates to resettlement provisions. What are the revised and introduced resettlement provisions for members leaving the Defence Force? Could I have more details of them?
BRIG. BURING -The changes that are reflected by that statement are, first of all, that formal courses for discharge resettlement training may now be commenced prior to the member's discharge date and completed after discharge. Also, eligible members will have the option to defer attendance at courses until up to six months after discharge with prior approval. The second element of that material is that long term members are eligible to be granted a maximum period of three days, not necessarily continuous and maybe in half days, within the last three months of service for such matters as registration and interviews at a Commonwealth Employment Service office, interviews with prospective employers, or seeking professional employment advice. That improvement also included the policy which normally allowed members to attend a maximum of two seminars, and more than two seminars may also be approved in certain circumstances. The nature of that improvement is in those details.
SENATOR NEWMAN -If members of the Defence Force are made redundant, they do not have the same entitlement to assistance with finding alternative employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. You will recall that this matter has been raised here before. Has any action been taken by the Department to try to obtain such a right for redundant members of the Defence Forces as is available to members of the Public Service?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -The answer is no.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it intended that that should be attempted?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I will make sure that it is looked at again. Perhaps you could say what the qualification is, Admiral.
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -As you would recall, entry to the Australian Public Service is by competition with other people. There is no preferential treatment for members made redundant from the Defence Force. They must compete for positions in the APS, the same as everybody else.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Admiral, I do not think that is relevant to what I am asking, but thank you all the same. I am asking whether the Department and the Government together will provide that opportunity for servicemen who have been made redundant and who for most of their Service life have received only the benefits to which public servants are entitled. They have been strictly tied down to Public Service entitlements on most things. If they have had that throughout their Service life, I would have thought that they should also have been entitled on redundancy to the same sort of treatment. I hope that the Minister will take that on board and see whether something can be done.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Yes, I will have someone take another look at that. I did not realise that it had been raised in previous committees.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I was also interested in item (xvi) which says that an outcome for last year was the development of broad discretionary powers for the administration of conditions of service within single Service administration. What was the development of those broad discretionary powers?
BRIG. BURING -This relates to the move of approving authorities from the headquarters of the Defence Force or the central office of the Department, as appropriate, to the Service officers and to officers appointed by the Chief of the Defence Force. This was executed, for example, in respect of allowances such as temporary rental allowance, temporary accommodation allowance, disturbance allowance, home purchase or sale expense allowance, the medical and dental officers' bounty, detention allowance and education assistance overseas.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Who exercised the discretion?
BRIG. BURING -It would depend on which particular matter it was, but the general trend of that move was to shift the approving authority powers out of the headquarters of the Australian Defence Force and the central office of the Department to the Service officers.
SENATOR NEWMAN -On page 47, in item (x) under the heading `Services Personnel Policy Outcomes', it is indicated that the delivery of family support services to Defence Force families improved `particularly in the areas of education, child-care, and spouse employment'. Is it possible to get more detail of what those improvements specifically are?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -As far as child-care is concerned, the Australian Defence Force is currently working with other departments in an attempt to establish the guidelines for work based child-care so we can introduce it in the Defence Force. It is very early days, but because of the changes that the Government is instituting in that regard we would like to take advantage of them, naturally. It is therefore at this stage a bit too early to give you any details.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Do you mean the employer based child-care encouragement that the Government is giving to other employers?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes, that is right. We have, to the best of my knowledge, one child-care centre at HMAS Nirimba which already would qualify under the new government policy under which the centre could be registered and could therefore attract fee relief for parents who put their children into that centre. We would like to develop that throughout the Defence Force as we can.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I would like you to, also.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -As far as the other aspects of family support are concerned, we are presently reviewing the family support services in an attempt to improve them. In other words, we are reviewing what the family information liaison service does and what the single Service family support people do in an attempt to improve the performance. We are also working with the Department of Employment, Education and Training to help register spouses in order to assist them with getting jobs. We are trying to register spouses in a number of areas-they are being employed as family liaison officers; a number of them are being employed by DEFCOM, the company that runs the discount service; and so on-and little by little we are trying to improve the family support services from the bottom up.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is any consideration being given, as happens in America, to spouse preference in Commonwealth employment?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I think, Senator, you have asked that question before.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I was hoping you might be considering it.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -And as we have said to you before, there are certain difficulties there.
SENATOR NEWMAN -We do give priority to Commonwealth employment for other groups in society, though.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes, but they are not members of the Public Service, so in that regard there were certain legislative difficulties. But where we can, we do.
SENATOR NEWMAN -There is no suggestion by the Department to the Commonwealth that Defence spouses might get some sort of extra ticks in their application for the Public Service?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I do not believe we could do that.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Some other groups in society do already have that. Veterans had it when they returned and still have it. It is still on the Commonwealth books for veterans to get priority. Where everything else is equal, they get the job. I would not have thought that it was impossible to legislate to do that for the Service spouses if the Commonwealth, the employer of the serviceman or woman, was minded to do so. Has that not been put as a proposal?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -We have not pursued that, no.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -It is not as simple as that to legislate for everything. I am interested that you seem to want a lot of Bills.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I am sorry, Senator; the acoustics are terrible in here.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -It is not necessarily as easy as that. Let us say that we are in a regional town and we give preference in employment only to spouses of servicemen. What does that do for our community relations in that town? It is not just a simple, warm inner glow issue. There are a lot of complications in it.
SENATOR NEWMAN -It is not as easy as you suggest, either because, by the time people get posted to somewhere and they wait their turn to get the job, they are being posted out. They never get a chance to become permanent in the Public Service; they remain temporary and therefore can be hired and fired only as they arrive in the place.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I was just saying that it is not as simple as you are putting it, either.
SENATOR NEWMAN -But you are condemning them to be one-income families in a two -income society if you do not do more to help them.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I acknowledge that there are difficulties.
SENATOR NEWMAN -That does not fix it, though. What about education allowance? That has been listed as one of the actions in the outlook for 1990-91.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -We are preparing a submission to the Department of Industrial Relations to broaden the availability of education allowance. That submission is under preparation at the present time.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is the reason for the review the restrictive nature of the criteria, the qualifying provisions?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Are you speaking about education allowance?
SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The reason for the review is that we are always trying to improve the conditions of service where we see a need and where we believe we can do so. I do not suppose there are any conditions of service that cover such a wide span that one could say that every contingency is covered.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Could you tell me what is the departmental definition of ` normal settling-in difficulties'?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I am not quite sure what you mean by that.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -What part are you on?
SENATOR NEWMAN -I am still on education allowance. Naval personnel who have been refused education allowance have been told that their children were simply suffering the normal settling-in difficulties. I wonder when the problem for a child is `normal settling-in difficulties' and when that child is in fact in need of education allowance or educational extra tuition allowance. How does the Department define that term?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I do not think there is such a definition. Not being familiar with the case you are citing, I am not able to comment on it.
SENATOR NEWMAN -No, but you are very familiar as a serviceman with the problems that children have in going from one school to another.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes, of course.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it that there is a certain amount of disturbance that is acceptable but then you reach a level where it is not and an education allowance will be payable?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -No, it has got nothing to do with that. Education allowance is payable if the person qualifies under particular circumstances. Without knowing more about your case I cannot comment.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I understand that, but some of the criteria relate to the level of education of the child and the circumstances of the posting, et cetera. Some, as I remember, go to the question of the need of the child. If you are told that your child does not have a need because he is just going through the normal settling-in problems, how do you deal with that? What is the Department's view of a normal settling-in problem?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -There is an allowance called extra tuition allowance. I think that must be what you are referring to. That is payable if a child has difficulties moving from one State to another and it provides for extra tuition at the new school.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I understand that, but this particular example, which I understand is not unusual, was an application being made for a child to be in boarding school because he suffered extreme disturbance in moving to new schools. Although the parents seemed to satisfy most criteria, it was decided that he was only going through normal settling-in difficulties. One wonders at the bureaucratic mind that decides just where that line ends.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -We might ask the Brigadier to add something to this discussion.
BRIG. BURING -In respect of the education allowance provision, a matter such as educational difficulties is one of the factors that can be considered for application of the allowance if the circumstances are set in the determination , and they are not defined any more clearly than that. Perhaps more closely associated with Senator Newman's question is what we do for what is called the extra tuition allowance, which is a smaller scale one where we rely on the opinion of advisers such as the teachers at the school where the child is arriving who will specify that for us.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes, but that is not what I was asking about. I was asking about the education allowance. I will come to extra tuition allowance in a minute. You have just acknowledged that part of the requirement is the problems that the child might be having at school.
BRIG. BURING -Yes, but these criteria are spelt out, for example, in the instruction on it. I could not do much more than suggest reference to that.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I do have a copy. You would acknowledge that this allowance is extremely difficult to get. What is the current expenditure on education allowance? Perhaps when we get to each one, the officer concerned could tell me. How have you measured how effective the educational allowance has been?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER - I think the answer is that we have not.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Why not?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT - Mr Chairman, I do not think there is any way you can actually measure the effectiveness of educational allowance. Really we are talking about the satisfaction of parents' needs. If the parents are using it then I believe there is a certain degree of satisfaction being delivered. If they are not using it, presumably there is no need. I think this is one of those terribly difficult things to measure.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you, Admiral, but is the justification for the education allowance not that it is a retention measure?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -I think that is an oversimplification, Mr Chairman. I do not believe it is a straightforward retention measure. It is to try to assist parents who have difficulty with their children as part of their itinerant service in the Defence Force. If it assists in retention, then it is a very good thing.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is the problem with the education of secondary children not consistently one of the things which are mentioned on exit surveys of those separating?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I would think disturbance of family life, including educational opportunities, is a factor.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Therefore, is the effectiveness of an education allowance which would assist with stability with children's education not at least reasonably to be considered as a retention measure?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -That is a factor that is there to mitigate against that, but there is no absolute solution to that no matter how much money you throw at it.
SENATOR NEWMAN -But one is spending taxpayers' money on it, Minister. I would have hoped we could have evaluated what effect it is having on keeping people on whom we have spent a lot on training. After all, I remind you that the whole purpose of program budgeting is to evaluate how well we are doing with this expenditure. Admittedly, we are not spending a lot on education allowance -although we have not been able to add it together yet-but I am trying to get a handle on how well it is working and what sorts of improvements are needed. We do not seem to be able to measure how effective it has been. How many dependants are in receipt of education allowance because the serving member is overseas?
BRIG. BURING -I have the figures in respect of parents and dependants in Australia, but not overseas.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I will take the ones in Australia tonight and we can have those overseas on notice, if you like.
BRIG. BURING -In May we reported that there were 82 dependants in respect of whom an education allowance was being paid. As at 12 September 1990 that has gone up to 92, and the number of members in respect of whom the allowance is paid has gone up from 70 to 85.
SENATOR NEWMAN -They were the ones in Australia?
BRIG. BURING -In Australia, yes. I do not have the data on overseas. I will take that on notice.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is the allowance for those dependants of the serving members overseas to pay for education in Australia or at an overseas post?
BRIG. BURING -The answer is both. It can pay for education in Australia if that is where the children are left and it can pay for similar education in some overseas countries if that is where the assistance is required.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Perhaps when you get the information on the overseas students, you could delineate as to whether it is being paid for Australia--
BRIG. BURING -Yes. It means largely where the children are not with their families.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Will you give me the details as best you can? Could you give me the ranks of those 70 to 85 parents?
BRIG. BURING -Yes. In equivalent ranks expressed in Army terms, the 85 are: lance-corporal, 2; corporal, 8; sergeant, 6; staff sergeant, 2; warrant officer class 2, 10; warrant officer class 1, 4; lieutenant, 1; captain, 6; major, 10; lieutenant-colonel, 18; colonel, 14; and brigadier, 4.
SENATOR NEWMAN -How many of those dependants are at boarding school, how many are in boarding hostels and how many are boarding privately?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -You are joking!
SENATOR NEWMAN -Would you mind giving that to me?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I might--
SENATOR NEWMAN -Minister, there are different allowances for each kind. I do not mind not having it tonight, if you do not have it.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -If it is possible to get the answer, we will get it.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Minister, if it is not possible, I have to ask why.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -The expense of research on trivia becomes--
SENATOR NEWMAN -It is not trivia, Minister, when it goes to retaining people in the Australian Defence Force. You have 92 dependants out of a total of how many of secondary school age?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -You have got to be joking!
SENATOR NEWMAN -How many thousands?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -That one we will not take on notice unless we can give you a ballpark figure.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Tens of thousands? I presume when your systems are all up and running you will be able to give us that information, or when you have done your census.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -The Government does not exist for the sake of systems, Senator. You will work that out one day.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Minister, you have in your own budget a census to try to find out whom you have got in your camp followers. I move on to extra tuition allowance. Why is the extra tuition allowance limited to six weeks within a six-month period? Would a 10-to-12 week period not be more appropriate to those children in their first term of a new school if they have learning difficulties?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -That very aspect is currently under review.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Again, apparently, that is in the three Services.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I would like you to get me that later. Are those schools that have a heavy preponderance of service children informed of the existence of extra tuition allowance?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I am not too certain about the schools, but the parents are. I believe that the schools find out because they are asked for advice on children who might need extra tuition allowance.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I understand the allowance does not cover all years of schooling. Is that correct?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I believe it does not cover all years of schooling, but I am not exactly sure which years are covered.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Why are all years not covered?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -That is presently also under review.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I understand that some tuition colleges charge an enrolment fee. Is that enrolment fee reimbursable? I understand that sometimes it is a fair amount for families.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I do not know.
BRIG. BURING -The criterion for payment of the allowance is demonstrated expenditure up to a certain limit. Under those terms I believe that an enrolment fee could be included.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Depending on the total cost?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes.
SENATOR NEWMAN -How many applications for education allowance and extra tuition allowance were refused in 1989-90?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -We could not answer that question because those applications are handled out in the Services and we do not keep a track record of them.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I think you will understand my concern that these families are being weeded out early on and told that they are not eligible, and therefore the demand for those allowances is not necessarily known to personnel planners . I believe it should be known. Is there any way that you can get a better flow of information on the need?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -We are always trying to improve the flow of information through the personnel offices of the three Services. If there is a difficulty I would be happy to speak to my counterparts in Navy, Army and Air Force and discuss it with them, certainly.
SENATOR NEWMAN -If there were some way of simply producing the statistics of applications refused, I think it would be a useful thing for all of us to know .
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I am not here for the Bureau of Statistics. We can keep so many statistics, but then you say we are an all-embracing monolithic body that does not devolve things into the field in manageable units, and that is a problem.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I recognise the problem. You spend $9 billion and you are one of the largest employers in Australia, but you do not know much about your people.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -If we keep all the statistics you want, we will be spending $10 billion!
SENATOR NEWMAN -I am trying to demonstrate that you do not know much about them at all. But I believe that you are going to try.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Always.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I believe this year you are going to try. It is one of your outlooks, is it not? Let me turn to page 50. What has been the impact of the Jans report on personnel policy? Are the recommendations of the Jans report being accepted?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Those aspects of the Jans report which deal with the Reserve are being actioned by the Assistant Chief of the Defence Force for development. They do not come within my purview. Those aspects of the Jans report which deal with conditions of service are all being actioned. Each one of those recommendations is being examined in some detail. There are a series of working papers which have been prepared and there are others which are in the process of preparation to see to what extent the Jans recommendations are already being implemented in the Defence Force and where we have a need to do more. But each one of them, I repeat, is being reviewed and actioned in one way or another.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Also on page 50 I note that there is a review to take place of the policy relating to the employment of DFRDB recipients. Am I to understand from that that those are the people who get out of the defence forces and who are eligible for a DFRDB pension, who are eligible to keep that pension if they work in the Department of Defence but not in the defence forces?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes, that is correct.
SENATOR NEWMAN -What is the purpose of the review, then?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The purpose of the review is simply to draw up some guidelines for the re-employment of people who have departed who are in receipt of a pension. It will look at how they would be employed again on full time duty under the Reserve, particularly under the new conditions that have been proposed by the DFRDB review committee.
SENATOR NEWMAN -There is an item on page 51 about a census which I just referred to. The proposal is to conduct a census of ADF families to establish a database which will assist policies relating to family support including the child-care, education and employment of Service spouses. I presume it is not just to get statistics but to take action. Is that the purpose of that census?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The purpose of the census is, as you suggest, to find out what are the needs of our families in terms of family support. To do that we need to have some full knowledge of the family composition of the members of the Defence Force. The purpose of the census is to use the results in development of our various family support policies. That would come in such things as education allowances, perhaps the employment of spouses, or education needs, and how we can improve those areas. So we seek for the first time to have full knowledge of the make-up of all of the families in the Defence Force.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is that to be completed during the year?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The census is due to be completed by about April of next year. The results at that stage may not be in such a form that we can immediately use them.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Will that include such things as having a dependent age pensioner in the family, and disabled children?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes, it will.
SENATOR NEWMAN -And whether they are home owners?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes. We are seeking all information about dependants. That will include those members without families, as they are called, who have dependants, and what these dependants are.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes, aged relatives and others that affect their ability to be posted or whatever.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Yes.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Will it be conducted by the Defence Department or by ABS as an agent?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -It will be put out to tender. That process is just starting.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I want to ask about an item that does not appear here. I think this is the right place to ask it. It is called the Port Wakefield allowance. Could you tell me what the current situation is with that allowance? The last time I heard, the Department supported it but it was being held up in the Department of Industrial Relations.
SENATOR SCHACHT -Are you opposed to the Port Wakefield allowance?
SENATOR NEWMAN -Of course not, Senator. I imagine you are not, either.
SENATOR SCHACHT -It is a very important place in South Australia.
SENATOR NEWMAN -You will be keen to see it finalised after all this long time.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I am tempted to call Gordon Bilney to the chair, but I will not.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The Port Wakefield allowance has come up again. We put a case to the Department of Industrial Relations, which was denied. I believe we have gathered a lot more evidence, and we are in the process of gathering still more evidence. We are going to make yet another submission to Industrial Relations to have Port Wakefield recognised as one of those areas.
SENATOR NEWMAN -A hardship post. Why has the Department of Industrial Relations taken so long? What has been its problem?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -Unfortunately, Estimates Committee F has finished, otherwise--
SENATOR NEWMAN -No; officers have to work with them on a daily basis. They should know.
SENATOR SCHACHT -I have been to Port Wakefield on many occasions as a senator for South Australia. What is the hardship about Port Wakefield?
SENATOR NEWMAN -Perhaps if you are a South Australian it is not.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -You were visiting then.
SENATOR SCHACHT -I only drive through it on the way to another place.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Exactly. Would you like to live there?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -You were focusing on Senator Newman's question. What are the perceived objections to it?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The Department of Industrial Relations gave us an answer some time ago. I cannot remember when it was. It considered that, on the evidence presented, Port Wakefield did not meet the criteria. That Department has developed numerical criteria for assessing these cases. It has given us a readout as to why it did not and we are going to get some more evidence. So the ball is back in our court.
SENATOR NEWMAN -So you have done it. Thank you very much. I now wish to ask a question about an allowance relating to the refit of HMAS Torrens. What allowances are being paid to officers and seamen who are being accommodated at either Endeavour House or the Kings Cross Hotel during the refit of HMAS Torrens ? What is the value of these allowances? If you will be slow to answer I do not mind putting this on notice because I have some subsequent questions .
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I will call Rear Admiral MacDougall to assist part of the way. He can then undertake to take it further.
Rear Adm. MacDougall-I cannot answer the question on the quantums, but these allowances are paid to the ship's company because of the living conditions while the ship is in refit. Some of them are accommodated in Endeavour House, as you point out, and some in motels. It is for their meals and overnight accommodation. I cannot tell you the quantum.
SENATOR NEWMAN -If I go through the rest of the questions you can tell me which you can answer tonight and which you will take on notice. If the ship were not in refit, how much would they be paid for seagoing allowance?
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL -The amount of seagoing allowance would be the same as for anybody else in a seagoing billet.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I am trying to compare the allowances.
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL -I would have to take that on notice, too, for the comparison.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Do you know how long the refit will take?
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL -It was to be completed at the end of this year but the ship has had significant problems with its turbines and will be in refit for some six months more than we expected.
SENATOR NEWMAN -So the crew stays posted to that ship throughout that very long period?
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL -No. The ship's company reduces to a level which enables them to look after such eventualities as fire, flood and security. A proportion of the ship's company will be posted either to shore or to other billets.
SENATOR NEWMAN -When they are posted ashore, do they stay with that vessel?
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL -No. They would be posted to a shore establishment or perhaps to another ship.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Obviously, you will not be able to answer this question now. What is the estimated total cost for all these allowances over the period of the refit? Presumably there has had to be a reassessment of what it will cost. Were any alternative arrangements considered for housing all these personnel for this period? Was this decided, as I presume it has to have been, that this was the most cost-effective method? It seems a pretty expensive way of doing things.
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL -The alternative could have been accommodation in shore establishments in the Sydney area, but these establishments are full. The cost for Endeavour House is less than the alternative of a motel.
SENATOR NEWMAN -That is even with the new upgrade to it?
REAR ADM. MACDOUGALL -Yes. Obviously, we would not leave beds empty in the cheaper option in Endeavour House and take the motel option, so we fill the cheaper option and then the overflow go to a motel. The advent of Endeavour House has enabled us to reduce by a significant amount the number of people accommodated in motels.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I would like to ask some questions now about performance based pay. I understand that the initial payment of performance based pay for Defence Force personnel is to be made no later than the end of February 1991. Is that correct?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -That is the plan if we can achieve it. At the moment we are waiting for the Industrial Relations Commission to bring down a ruling on the applicability of performance based pay on pay rate awards and, until such time as we have that, neither the Public Service nor the Defence Force can proceed to implement performance based pay.
SENATOR NEWMAN -How long has it been with the Commission?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Several months.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Are you not expecting to get finality in this financial year?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I really have no knowledge of when we may expect a ruling from the Commission.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I ask because there does not appear to be any provision for it in the Budget. With the date of February 1991 as the target, I thought there would be something identifiable.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -All adjustments for pay come out of Additional Estimates. I will ask Mr Jones to clarify that.
MR JONES -At the time of the Budget there was provision made for estimated costs of performance pay, including Defence, but they were held, I understand, against the Finance portfolio and not allocated to the Defence portfolio at that time.
SENATOR NEWMAN -How much was it?
MR JONES -I cannot recall the figure offhand.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Perhaps you could get that for us. Is there no Finance officer present?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I was just checking. I thought there would be.
MR JONES -At the time it was some tens of millions of dollars. The figure I recall was about $30m, but I am not sure.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I would be grateful if we could get that figure. I understand that every officer who is going to be eligible for performance based pay has been provided with a performance based pay information statement. Is that correct?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -That is correct.
SENATOR NEWMAN -What has been the reaction to that statement?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I do not think I am in a position to give you an accurate answer on that.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I almost intervened there, Senator, but I thought if you had some indication it would be best to put it on the table, but it is a rather tough question you ask.
SENATOR NEWMAN -There has been no feedback to you?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Mixed feedback. It is a new concept; one must expect some reaction.
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I may say that is reflected in the whole Public Service. That is, those who think they are going to win think it is terrific; those who have got persecution complexes think it is terrible.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I think there was a parliamentary committee report recommending against it. I would like to ask now about the Sanderson review. What impact has that review had on the number of colonels in the Army?
MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -The number of colonels pre-and post-Sanderson was as follows: in October 1988, 92 in Army office and in August 1990, 82. That was the establishment. The actual posted strength in October 1988 was 95, and in August 1990 there were actually 90. In Headquarters ADF, in October 1988 there were 27 colonels on establishment and in August 1990, after the review, there were 34 on establishment.
SENATOR NEWMAN -What is the total for full colonels now?
MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -On posted strength in Headquarters ADF and Defence Department Central Office, 27 in October 1988 and 41 in August 1990. Let me get some conclusion out of that. Basically in Army we have about eight more colonels now post-Sanderson. The reason for that is that we have officers in a number of additional positions. There are a couple of Regular colonels now commanding Reserve brigades; we have a colonel on compassionate posting; we have a colonel at ANU as a military fellow, which position is surplus to establishment; and we have three short term project officers. I think that makes up the eight over and above the Sanderson review.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is that going to be for very long?
MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -No. They will wind down towards the end of the year. With the Defence organisation, four of the surplus colonels are project officers and three are officers who fill positions which are not dedicated to Army. I understand that they will wind down too as the projects complete.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Then we will be down to the Sanderson level.
MAJOR-GEN. JEFFERY -Then we will be down to our authorised establishment, yes.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I have some questions relating to the Cross report. With regard to recommendation 3, has the public relations strategy been submitted yet to the appropriate Ministers?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -The answer is no. It was deferred because of the election. I have been given a message as to why but I would like an expansion on that.
BRIG. GOWER -We were due to brief that ministerial committee before the election; it was deferred. A new public relations strategy is being prepared and the ministerial committee will be briefed on it.
SENATOR NEWMAN -When is that likely to be?
BRIG. GOWER -I would say just before the end of this year.
SENATOR NEWMAN -In connection with recommendation 4, has the Navy officers careers study been completed yet and, if so, what action has resulted?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -It has not.
SENATOR NEWMAN -When is the Air Force officers structure review expected to be completed?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -It is due to be completed by the end of this year.
SENATOR NEWMAN -In connection with recommendation 7, have any difficulties arisen from trying to carry out a policy of officer streaming at the same time as the Sanderson proposals are being implemented?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -I am informed that each of the Services has had a different experience with regard to this and it might be more appropriate to ask that question when representatives of each of the Services are at the table.
SENATOR NEWMAN -The report recommended that single Services develop a personnel management system which did two things, amongst others: firstly, select out at an early stage officers who showed a talent for managerial-type positions in the Russell Hill Offices bureaucracy and, secondly, ensure that such officers were not lost to the central organisation by too frequent postings out of Canberra. Were those proposals taken into account when the single Services set about their streaming reviews?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Yes, they were.
SENATOR NEWMAN -If they were, what part have the committee's proposals played in the development of the streaming idea? In specific terms, are the single Services now attempting to stream officers who show the potential to be effective at Russell Hill and to develop this talent?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -That is my understanding. If the Services disagree with that they can certainly contradict me now.
SENATOR NEWMAN -What measures are being taken to develop the talent?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -As far as personnel streaming is concerned, there are training courses to which people are being sent-for example, in industrial relations either at university level or through departmental training courses. People's skills are also being developed in other areas in the personnel field through postings to those appointments, through various in-service training courses and through the development of the personnel specialty itself . It is going to be a lengthy process if one does decide to stream people in a particular field, and it applies not only to personnel; it applies to materiel and operations and various other specialties that officers in all three Services will be streamed into in the future.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Will that also include posting of those individuals to government departments or authorities, and/or private enterprise, where appropriate?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I believe that in the future you will see more of that ; it is already happening in some areas. Whether or not we get to the point soon of attaching people to industry I do not know, but that is certainly a possibility for the future.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Not to the ACTU, I hope.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The ACTU could at times be rather helpful to us, I believe.
SENATOR NEWMAN -It might bring a few other things back into the force if you send them there! Regarding recommendation 14a, has anything further been done in the Services to introduce a specialist personnel management employment category?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -I believe all three Services are implementing such a specialty.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Immediately?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -As of now, yes.
SENATOR NEWMAN -On recommendation 18, I understand that a family support policy has been written. What is the current position as regards adoption of the policy, and is a copy of it available to be examined?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The family support policy will be presented to the Chiefs of Staff Committee sometime before the end of the year. Once it has received that Committee's agreement and ministerial agreement I expect Ministers to be happy to make it available.
SENATOR NEWMAN -On recommendation 26a, has the work value project been completed yet? If not, when is completion expected?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -No, it has not been completed. I am not quite sure when it is going to be completed. We have gone through phase 1 of that project and gathered information; we are now in an analysis phase but I do not have the details.
BRIG. BURING -I will treat this in the categories in which we are handling it. The survey of senior officers was completed in September 1989 and survey information was submitted to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal last November. We intend resurveying all senior officers within the next 12 months to determine changes in job size post-Sanderson and changes with the introduction of program management and budgeting. The survey of junior officers was completed in July 1990 and the survey information is currently being analysed. We expect to have our own conclusions on an internal report finalised in November this year. The survey of other ranks was completed in November 1989 and analysis is still being conducted, but I might point out that at this stage that is largely a large sample survey; it is not necessarily all other ranks. Initial results were submitted to the Tribunal to support the 6 per cent pay increase achieved under structural efficiency. We are currently completing profiles with the results of employment classifications to support some consideration of pay level placements.
SENATOR NEWMAN -When is it all expected to be completed?
BRIG. BURING -I would suggest that this is a project that is not going to finish. In other words, it is likely to become part of the ongoing process that we use to manage our salary structure.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I turn to recommendation 36. When are final recommendations expected of the revised live-in policy so that some attempt can be made to introduce entitlements a, b and c for members without families? They are full removal, storage costs of furniture and a fair level of disturbance allowance.
BRIG. BURING -I can say only that the review is well advanced in terms of the issues involved but the details still need to be fully developed and agreed. It is therefore not possible to predict the final outcome and when it might be completed. It is also waiting on some developments on the Human Rights Commission front which have not yet been concluded.
SENATOR NEWMAN -What sorts of things?
BRIG. BURING -There are a number of claimants.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I am sorry; I do not understand the connection.
BRIG. BURING -There are some cases before that Commission which have not yet been decided.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Do they relate to this recommendation?
BRIG. BURING -They relate to the conditions for members without family.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Can you be a bit more specific?
BRIG. BURING -With matters that are before another Commission, I would not think so.
SENATOR NEWMAN -You can give me the topic, surely, without talking about the detail.
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -It is that topic. We really cannot discuss it any further; it is sub judice at the moment. It is that topic, members without family.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Members without families in relation to what?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -The statement that they had been discriminated against because of their marital status.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I am talking about policy areas. I do not understand how anything before a commission which relates to a specific case has any real effect on my ability to ask questions about where you are going with implementing the recommendations of the report.
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -I think the point that was being made was that until the results of those hearings come through we have stalled a bit on the policy aspects because there are policy issues at stake in the Human Rights Commission.
SENATOR NEWMAN -As to what you are bound by, do you mean?
VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Yes.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I can well understand the Human Rights Commission thinking that single and married people are treated differently in the defence forces. We would all recognise they are, whether it be for good or bad reason. But the Cross committee recommended three specific things-a full removal, storage costs of furniture and a fair level of disturbance allowance. I think it also went on and talked about covered car accommodation, if I remember rightly. What is stopping you from looking at implementing those and getting on with it ? They would remove a discrimination if they did anything, surely.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -We are doing just that, Senator.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes, but you cannot give me any indication of where you are going to and when.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -No, we cannot at the moment.
SENATOR NEWMAN -How does the Human Rights Commission stop you?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The Human Rights Commission is not stopping us. What Brigadier Buring was saying was that, whatever ruling the Human Rights Commission eventually will bring down, we would be bound to take that into consideration. But we are not stopping work simply because there are cases before the Human Rights Commission.
SENATOR NEWMAN -So that is not delaying things?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Not our present work, no.
SENATOR NEWMAN -So when will we expect to see the work that you are doing come to fruition? What is stopping it?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -Just the workload.
BRIG. BURING -I could also point out that your question about disturbance allowance is now actually in place for members without family including arrangements from living-in to living-in.
SENATOR NEWMAN -And living-out to living-out?
BRIG. BURING -And the disturbance allowance coverage is now complete.
SENATOR NEWMAN -That includes living-out to living-out, does it not?
BRIG. BURING -Yes, it does, within the same locality as well.
SENATOR NEWMAN -So that was treated separately and did not involve--
BRIG. BURING -In the context of the Cross recommendation, the disturbance allowance policy has now been carried through to the degree of coverage that was hoped for.
SENATOR NEWMAN -So we have dealt with C and we still have A and B hanging fire ?
BRIG. BURING -That could well be, yes.
SENATOR NEWMAN -There was a study going on totally into disturbance allowance, was there not, not just for singles? Has that been completed?
BRIG. BURING -There was a study conducted to analyse relocation assistance. It was carried out by us in conjunction with one of the other elements of our Department and it has generated a broad picture that our provisions are, in fact, quite competitive.
SENATOR NEWMAN -How does the present amount of the allowance compare with the recommended minimum amounts of $1,500 for members with families and $500 for members without families? Are you able to answer that?
BRIG. BURING -The maximum allowance effective at the end of last year for a member with family was $1,180. It has not been possible to justify the higher amounts that were recommended in Cross.
SENATOR NEWMAN -And for the members without families?
BRIG. BURING -For a member without family, the highest removal amount to new locality from living-out to living-out is $295 at present.
SENATOR NEWMAN -What likelihood is there of implementing any new personnel objectives within the existing personnel share of the Defence budget?
AIR VICE-MARSHAL ROSER -The explanatory notes indicate a number of new initiatives that we are working on. Obviously, they would have to be placed in the context of the Defence budget.
SENATOR NEWMAN -I asked what likelihood there is of implementing those sorts of initiatives within the existing personnel share of the total budget. Is there any room for manoeuvre within the budget, or is it going to require extra resources-that is what I am saying-is it from some part of the budget or something extra? What is the bottom line going to be?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -The bottom line is either that you change your priorities within the finite budget or that you increase the budget.
SENATOR NEWMAN -Is there any likelihood that they can be met within the existing budget?
SENATOR ROBERT RAY -There is always a likelihood but no inevitability.