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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10201


Mr SNOWDON (LingiariMinister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Indigenous Health) (12:30): I thank the committee for its forbearance. Unfortunately, I was out at a peacekeepers' memorial service. My apologies to my colleagues and to the committee. I thank those members—the members for Fadden, Mitchell, Longman, Herbert and Ryan for the opposition and the members for Canberra, Eden-Monaro, Robertson and Makin for the government—who made a contribution to this discussion.

I was a bit disappointed by some of the contributions made by members opposite. They were trying to misrepresent history—or rewrite it, more to the point—or, as some historians might say, give us a revisionist's view of history, which was not that helpful. Suggestions that Labor governments have not been supportive of ADF Cadets are simply untrue. I commend the coalition government for, when it was in power, providing funding boosts to cadets. But that funding has been continued under the current government.

It is worthwhile noting that the coalition government imposed 27 reviews, studies or project reports on the cadet organisations during the period 1996 to 2006 and that it was left to us, the Labor government, to do something meaningful and conduct a practical and comprehensive review: the Hickling review. It was left up to this government to make practical, commonsense reforms through this legislation and in doing so to deliver on our election commitment.

The legislation which is being debated today is another example of how we are following through on our reforms to develop a common and concerted youth development engagement framework for defence. The bill implements part of the government's response to the recommendations of the Hickling review into the cadet programs. This reform, as I said earlier, has been a long time coming. It will provide the Chief of the Defence Force—and this is a very important reform—with the power of direction over the service chiefs regarding cadet matters. This was first raised in Cadets: the future review, a 1999 report known also as the Topley review. It has been a feature of all external and internal reviews in the ADF Cadets since. This could have been done by the coalition when it was in government, but it was not; so we, through this legislation, will be making that change today.

The Australian Defence Force Cadets is a nationwide youth development scheme delivered in partnership by defence and the community. There are approximately 22,000 Australian Defence Force Cadets and 2,500 cadet staff and some 500 cadet units and headquarters across Australia. I pay my respects to the over 160 ADF Cadets and staff in my own electorate, who are based in the following units: Training Ship Melville Bay, 73 Army Cadet Unit Tenant Creek, 74 Army Cadet Unit Alice Springs, 75 Army Cadet Unit Daly River, 76 Army Cadet Unit Tiwi Islands, 77 Army Cadet Unit Wadeye, 803 Squadron RAAF Tindal and 804 Squadron Alice Springs.

Currently, the Chief of Army, the Chief of Navy and the Chief of Air Force are responsible for the administration of their respective cadet organisations, subject to the direction of the minister. The Defence Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 amends the Defence Act 1903, the Naval Defence Act 1910 and the Air Force Act 1923 to provide the Chief of the Defence Force, the CDF, with the authority to issue directions to the service chiefs in relation to the administration of their respective cadet schemes. The bill will therefore ensure that coherent tri-service policy can be consistently developed and implemented by each cadet organisation and will assist with the consolidation and reduction of duplicated efforts across the defence programs. I commend the bill to the House and again thank the Main Committee for its forbearance.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.