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Tuesday, 22 June 1999
Page: 7111


Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (9:30 PM) —The honourable member for Gilmore has just driven home my point. Her deep knowledge of Nowra and defence issues is in stark contrast to that of the honourable member for Herbert, who last week attempted to essentially act as a mouthpiece for the Minister for Defence. He, unfortunately without facts of the actual budget expenditures, managed to not really successfully defend the government's position.

Page 16 of the defence department's portfolio budget statement says:

The funding requirements of this initiative are still being identified

and will be notified in the Additional Estimates. These requirements will affect the resources available for other initiatives . . .

The fundamental conclusion we can make from all of this—and the effort from the honourable member for Herbert—is as I said on 2 June: firstly, there is no extra funding provided for any of the defence minister's new initiatives; secondly, some of these initiatives are yet to be properly costed; thirdly, the Defence Reform Program goalposts keep shifting every second day; and, fourthly, if uniformed personnel want a pay rise over 1.5 per cent, they will have to accept cuts to staff numbers or reductions in their conditions and allowances.

This is hardly an outcome that would be welcomed by our service men and women in the electorate of Herbert or anywhere else. As I say, the contrast with the honourable member for Gilmore is quite pronounced. When the minister for industrial relations was telling the whole of Australia how successful the coalition was in smashing people's conditions, reducing wages and moving away from awards, the member for Herbert made the infamous pronouncement that there had never been reserve leave in any award in Australia. That is how much he knows about what the government is doing with regard to industrial relations. On the subject of the removal of the permission for people on Australian awards to get leave for reserves, he was saying, in the very week that it was being removed from Australian awards, that leave for reserves had never existed. It is unfortunate that he does come to this place professing such expertise in these matters. As was shown in his contribution on the budget, he simply has it totally wrong on the figures.