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Thursday, 27 March 2003
Page: 10352

Senator JOHNSTON (11:26 AM) —I support the remarks of Senator Cook and thank him and pay tribute to him and to Senator Hogg for the leadership they disclosed in what was a very complex, difficult matter. This was my first committee as a new senator. I will not put words into Senator Marshall's mouth, but for me it was like jumping in at the very deep end.

The Defence Materiel Organisation is an agency of some 8,500 people administering approximately $25 billion of defence acquisition capability platforms every year. The committee worked very hard and had approximately a dozen public hearing days, with several other days of informal interviews and inspections of defence facilities and interviews of SPOs at various places around our country. Indeed, it is a litmus test and template for ongoing scrutiny by the parliament of what is a very important, complex and substantial asset provider in terms of defence capability. The job of the DMO is to supply, maintain and manage ships, planes, personnel, scientific hardware, software for submarines for JORN—the Jindalee Operational Radar Network—and other capability platforms. It is not a small task; it is enormously complex and one which engages Australian industry.

We visited a number of software manufacturers and program producers throughout Australia, particularly in Western Australia. We went to Rosebank Engineering in Victoria. It was a most enlightening and encouraging experience to see the innovation and energy disclosed by a small engineering firm in maintaining our F111s. We visited a number of defence prime contractors—Tenix, ADI and Austal—and had significant interaction with a number of Australian defence industry suppliers.

In keeping these remarks brief may I say that the secretariat, as with all secretariats I have experienced in my brief time as a senator, worked with energy and diligence to produce a very satisfactory report. I commend it to senators. The committee can take some pride in what was produced over our days of hard work.