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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE D - 10/10/1989 - DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE - Program 1-CURRENT DEFENCE FORCES - Subprogram 1.3.1-Combat forces

SENATOR NEWMAN -I would like to ask some questions about peacekeeping forces. In relation to UNIMOG in Iran-Iraq and the local or adverse circumstance allowance, I was told in November 1988-and in June 1989-that evidence to support the case was still being collected. Am I now told that is still the situation and, if so, why?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -My understanding is that the evidence to support the case is now available. It has been lodged with the Department of Industrial Relations, and is in the process of a determination being reached.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So, we are now onto the third contingent and we will finally get a determination before they come home, is that correct?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -I am not sure that we will get a determination before they come home.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Nor am I confident at all on the past record. Can you tell me why it has taken so long?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -It has taken a long time to gain and to gather the evidence. There are all sorts of opinions being expressed, but you need hard evidence in these matters and that was not available.

SENATOR NEWMAN -We have had embassy staff in Tehran for all that period; we have had two contingents of army officers there. I cannot understand why their evidence would not be acceptable to the Department of Industrial Relations.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -It was not acceptable to us either, Senator, on industrial grounds.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Could you be more specific? I do not understand.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Perhaps Brigadier Buring might be able to add to this.

BRIG. BURING -The quantum of the allowance has been settled with the Department of Industrial Relations. They have indicated to us which date of effect they plan to give it and we are not happy with it.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Good on you! You are not suggesting that it is too much?

BRIG. BURING -Oh, no. We want the allowance to apply from the date the deployment began.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Of course. Are they suggesting anything else?

BRIG. BURING -They have a standard procedure related to how far back they can date a particular application and we are trying to sort that out at the moment .

SENATOR NEWMAN -Let me get it quite straight, so I do not jump to false conclusions. They are suggesting that all the people who have been on this force, confidently believing their government would look after them, are at the present time possibly not going to get this allowance coverage. Is that right? That is what is being proposed by the Department of Industrial Relations?

BRIG. BURING -They are considering in respect of their normal policies when payment of the allowance should commence.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What are they saying? When is that? You do not have to protect them, Brigadier.

BRIG. BURING -Their normal procedure is to apply it from date of signature of the determination, which is obviously unsatisfactory to us and we have told them so.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So they were able to get their act into gear so that the Namibian force had their allowances determined, having found out when they left this country. We have been relying on men to be there for over a year now and it is proposedthat it will not be taken back to the first day. Is that correct?

BRIG. BURING -We are not sure what the current considerations of that issue are.

SENATOR NEWMAN -It had better not be that.

BRIG. BURING -We would hope not.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -That, of course, is one component of the allowances that they are paid, the hazard component.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes. That is the one I have been nagging about for 15 months. It is quite disgraceful. Mrs Kelly said back in November 1988 that industrial relations officers would be'meeting with headquarters ADF tomorrow with a view to finalising the allowance'. She did not have any luck and it looks like Mr Simmons has not had any luck either. Have you got a problem with communicating with them? Do they hear you or return your phone calls?

BRIG. BURING -I cannot answer that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Do they return your calls?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Yes. There is no problem with communication with the Department of Industrial Relations.

SENATOR NEWMAN -You just cannot have a meeting of minds.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Correct.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Will you tell them I will come over and see them personally?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Would you promise, Senator?

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes, I will. Just wait for the election! As for those who have served with UNIIMOG has there been any suggestion that they would receive a tax rebate for their time in Iran-Iraq?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -I am not sure, Senator; we would have to check on that. I do not think so. Just straight peacekeeping. I do not believe it has ever been an issue-not that I am aware.

SENATOR NEWMAN -When will it be officially announced that the UNIIMOG forces will be eligible for the Australian Service Medal?

BRIG. BURING -We have raised that matter with the Australian Taxation--

SENATOR NEWMAN -This is the matter of taxation.

BRIG. BURING -Taxation for UNIIMOG in terms of a zone A tax rebate. The outcome of that question is awaiting the finalisation of the allowance.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you.

BRIG. BURING -So it is alive.

SENATOR NEWMAN -It is not yet dead.

BRIG. BURING -No.

SENATOR NEWMAN -All right. Now with regard to the Australian service medal.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -We understand that the Governor-General has approved the award of the UNIIMOG overseas service medal.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Do you know when it will be gazetted?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -No, we do not know when it will be gazetted at this stage.

SENATOR NEWMAN -With UNTAG: Will the Namibian conditions of service package be set as a precedent to future Australian UN peacekeeping forces?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -No, the agreement that we had when we set the Namibia allowance in place was that it would not be used as a precedent in future actions of that sort; it would be a one-off and each case would be considered on its merits.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So we will be going through the same business that we have been going through with the people in Iran and Iraq every time we send troops away on a peacekeeping force?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Just in relation to the Namibian force: we had a briefing here a couple of weeks ago on the whole history of Australian involvement in peacekeeping forces, as you have been aware, and I thought the figure that was put up for the Namibian force was $22m a year. I see you have $5.5m here. Was I wrong?

SENATOR NEWMAN -It could be in different parts of the--

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -The cost of the commitment to UNTAG, is $22m for equipment, stores and ammunition.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -That is for the whole deployment, or per annum?

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -That, I understand, is for the whole deployment.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Oh, I see. I understood it was per annum and I could not reconcile it with your $5.5m. Thank you.

SENATOR NEWMAN -But that is a bit difficult to cope with because you do not really know the scope of the full deployment, do you? I mean, it is open-ended .

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -It was based on the two deployments.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -We are into the third now.

SENATOR NEWMAN -No, Namibia.

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -No, we are just starting the second one in Namibia. But essentially there should be no significant increase in the equipment, stores and ammunition. We are not using any ammunition. I would think that the second iteration would essentially just take over the equipment, stores et cetera, which the first one had.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -It is $22m out of the Army vote, is it not? Or is that the whole Department of Defence vote?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Out of the Defence vote.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -It was agreed it should come from the Defence vote.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Does not everything come out of the Defence vote, even help to the airlines?

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Years ago the Defence Committee made a recommendation that if we were going to embark on peacekeeping functions they had to be funded through a supplement to the Defence vote. Has Defence done nothing to fight for that money?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -We certainly do fight for it each time, Senator, on the basis of what the cost recovery should be. The bottom line is eventually, usually, how much training value we get from it and how much operational value . If we do get any that is offset against our total cost. In this particular case we were invited to absorb it and we have.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -You were invited to absorb the whole lot?

SENATOR NEWMAN -Told to absorb you mean.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Why do you not invite Foreign Affairs to take it out of their vote?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -They would like us to take some of their operating costs out of ours as well.

SENATOR NEWMAN -It is a peacekeeping force, is it not? I asked whether you had officially received a request from the United Nations refugee organisation-I do not have its proper title-for a long term arrangement with them for providing the services of Army engineers to produce refugee camps wherever needed at a moment's notice.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -The advice that I am getting from the specialists is that we have not.

SENATOR NEWMAN -When I was there, the United Nations officers on the ground said that the Army was the most professional force that they had ever had doing that job, and they would like me to carry back to Australia the request of their interest in having a long term contractual arrangement withthe Australian Army for providing these engineers' services on an as-needed basis, for two to three months at a time, to go to a country that needs refugee camps and come away again.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -We have not had a formal request from the United Nations.

SENATOR NEWMAN -It has not come. They were most complimentary about the skills of our engineers and their understanding of the need to do a job professionally and quickly. Can I ask about the UNMCTT force in Pakistan? How many soldiers have been sent to Pakistan as part of the UN mine clearance training team?

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -Nine.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What is the exact capacity of their involvement?

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -To instruct Pakistan based Afghan refugees in mine and ordnance recognition and basic clearance tasks.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So they are in a fairly dangerous operation, as well. What is happening to their hazard allowance? Has that been determined before they left the country?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Yes, we set that in place. There is no special allowance: they are training. It is a short term travelling provision, I am advised.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So they are not actually working in the field, they are demonstrating or something.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -Yes, they are not clearing mines themselves.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Could you give me the reference number for their determination ? If you do not have it with you, perhaps you could let me have it later.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -I do not think we have a determination on this one.

SENATOR NEWMAN -You have not, and they have gone?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -We would only do a determination in specific instances. We would normally just decide that these are the allowances that someone will be paid. It is an administrative arrangement.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So there would be separation allowances and the normal things. From which units and what rank are these soldiers?

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -I do not know.

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -I cannot answer that question.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Perhaps if you would take that on notice.

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -Yes, could we take it on notice, please?

SENATOR NEWMAN -I have some questions about Norforce. Is it correct that there is a waiting list of approximately 60 for the Norforce Army Reserve Unit?

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -I cannot answer that. Could I take that on notice?

SENATOR NEWMAN -Perhaps you would also tell me why there is a waiting list, as well, then?

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -Yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -If personnel ceilings do exist-which I assume must be the case -since when has this been the case, and why is it?

MAJOR- GEN. FITZGERALD -The reason for the ceiling for an authorised manning level, which is set on a unit basis, is simply to keep us within the ceiling set for the total strength of the Army Reserve; and to ensure that we have the right priorities for the manning of the right units within that overall ceiling. The ceilings were set as a result of the Army Reserve Review Committee review. The exact timings of that I am not sure of, but it would have been some two years ago I would think.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Would there be many units that have waiting lists?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -There may well be and that would not surprise me; some units are more popular than others. It may be that, simply from the point of view of recruit training, people are set aside until you can bring a worthwhile sized group into the unit. I would add that the manning levels are by no means fixed. We try to keep them as flexible as we can between regions and within regions to ensure that people are not being denied the chance to serve. I think this has to be done in a reasonable way. Obviously we would not want one particular unit, simply because it is popular for one reason or another, to have twice the number of people that we believe that we need.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Of course not. But you would have good operational reasons, would you not, to have more surveillance in the north?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Yes. I take your point on Norforce. I am not sure whether there is a waiting list there or not.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I would be interested to know whether consideration has been given to having yet another unit there to take up the waiting list to good effect.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -The answer to that question is no, consideration has not been given to that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I am interested that you have not done so. It seems the logical thing to do. You have units that you cannot fill down south in some cases, have you not?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Yes. They all have their role in life.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes, but some of them do not see it as clearly as, say, people in the north do.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I accept that but if we were to only have those sorts of units that are easy to fill and simply bring in the numbers then it does not help our capability really. We might have the numbers there but we do not have the capability.

Short adjournment

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -We have asked questions about the liability the Services may or may not have to a passenger. I think it was suggested that the liability would be met in any claim by the airlines involved. If, in the event of some unfortunate accident, it was established that the Defence Force itself had been negligent, would the airline which had contracted the Air Force to provide the service, be capable of pursuing the Defence Force, or the person, or the Air Force itself, for that negligence in order to offset the cost to the customer?

SENATOR RICHARDSON -That had crossed my mind, but I think I said earlier that, in the first instance, the contract was with the airlines. I said that we would have to get some further legal advice on that and we shall. I will be happy to make sure that is made available to the Committee.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -I would have hoped that that kind of eventuality or prospect would have been examined before this sort of arrangement began, rather than after it. It seems to me to be fairly significant.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I do not think we have advice on that, but I could be wrong. I have not asked anyone to check that, but we shall check.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -If anybody is on a plane and it is being flown negligently, I suppose that person would have a right to claim against the negligent party.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -So would that be the Air Force?

ACTING CHAIRMAN -It could even be against the Commonwealth of Australia.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -If I might get an opinion from an esteemed lawyer, it might be that the person concerned would sue the airline in the first instance and the airline may seek damages from the Commonwealth.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -It would probably be limited, would it not?

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I do not know.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -Is there not some convention?

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I am not certain that this is the place to sort it out.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -It is very interesting, though, is it not?

SENATOR RICHARDSON -Fascinating!

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -What concerns me is the extent to which the Commonwealth may have the potential of substantial contingent liabilities, particularly when the Commonwealth is not insured in these matters. It insures itself, does it not?

SENATOR RICHARDSON -In any emergency situation where the forces had to evacuate people from somewhere, as they do from time to time, if there were an accident involving a vehicle or an aircraft owned by the Commonwealth, in the same circumstances you could say that there would be an action against the Commonwealth. I think we would certainly all regard this as an emergency situation and a long way from the norm. I suppose this is just an extension of that principle, but we shall seek legal advice.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -Is it not right that the Commonwealth does not take out liability insurance in respect of any of its risks. When you are trying to settle a case, they say, `We have to refer to the Treasurer'.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I think Senator Baume just acknowledged that. The Commonwealth does not insure itself against those things.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -You have got me on a very tender subject here. Would you like me to dilate a bit?

SENATOR MACGIBBON -No. You are the chair.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -The Voyager is one-that is a limitations statute one.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -Would we face the kind of problem and delay that was faced in the Voyager situation?

SENATOR NEWMAN -The statute of limitations applies--

SENATOR MACGIBBON -There was one important point the Minister raised about this being an emergency and comparing it to an accident. It is one thing to go --

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I am not comparing it to an accident. If we had an accident in this situation, I drew an analogy between it and an accident in a situation like an evacuation when you had to fly out of, or find a means of transport out of, a difficult situation for a number of people.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Okay, but that is a finite operation. We are now involved in a protracted operation and it is just--

SENATOR RICHARDSON -Finite, though.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -No. When we are going around the world and we have to fly Cubana, Mexicana or something like that, you play the percentages. You just fly it the one leg that you have to and you are glad when you get off at the other end: you do not fly it every day of your life. What you are doing here is exposing the Commonwealth to a liability every day by running a service for hire and reward. I would suggest to you that there is a very big liability there that really has to be funded, and the first action would be against the Department of Defence.

MR IVES -I can only repeat that we shall seek some advice on that, but the whole reason for Defence involvement in this has been to provide a service to the public at a time of obvious emergency need. I think that overall across Australia that has been well and truly appreciated. There may be some risk associated with that public service-I suppose there always is with a public service-but nonetheless it is a risk that I would have thought we had no alternative but to undertake.

SENATOR MACGIBBON -Setting that issue to one side-and I do not want to debate the pros and cons of that-you are still left with the fact that you have this liability in the event of an accident. Having had some personal experience over the years of insuring aircraft that I fly, I know that you have some very big worries with the liability you are exposed to-and I do not fly for hire and reward. It is a very serious subject; that is all I will say.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -Too right it is a serious subject. The liability is probably the same as that of the Commonwealth for `C' car drivers. If any of their precious passengers should be injured, they would be entitled to sue the Commonwealth.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -We would not, though, would we?

ACTING CHAIRMAN -Too right we would!

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -The analogy here would be `C' car drivers being used as taxis for members of the public when there was a taxi strike.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -That is right. I think you would probably find that because of the potential disaster that comes from aircraft accidents, there is a limitation on the amount that you have to pay out. You should get a good opinion about it.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I would have thought that you would have got it before now, Minister.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -That was the point. Firstly, I would like to know what the legal advice is. Secondly, I would like to know why, in fact, none had been sought before this agreement came into effect. What is the nature of the agreement, and how binding is it? Have we seen the agreement?

SENATOR NEWMAN -No.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -Is it possible to see the agreement?

SENATOR RICHARDSON -Which agreement?

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -The agreement under which the Air Force is providing aircraft.

SENATOR NEWMAN -The service to Ansett and Australian.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -Is it a written agreement, a contractual agreement, or a gentlemen's agreement?

SENATOR NEWMAN -No gentlemen!

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I think they are all gentlemen.

MR IVES -As I understand it, there has been an exchange of correspondence on the arrangements--

SENATOR NEWMAN -Could that be made available, please, to the Committee?

DR MCINTOSH -We will ask the Minister, to see if he is prepared to make it available.

SENATOR NEWMAN -He has answered questions based on it in the Parliament. I would have thought that he would be prepared to let us have a look at the actual agreement, as it is very much in the public interest.

DR MCINTOSH -In that case, I have no doubt that he would say yes, if he agreed with you.

SENATOR NEWMAN -The public is paying the bill.

ACTING CHAIRMAN -Senator Newman is entering the lists on behalf of the profession, and so you should. I know who is advising the pilots, and there would be somebody advising the Government and somebody advising the airlines: you could get an opinion from a number of the fellows.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -Can I be more specific. Can we ask whether an opinion has been sought, and from whom, presumably the Attorney-General's Department, about the nature of the agreements that have been entered into between the Defence Department or the Minister-or whoever it is-acting on behalf of the Commonwealth and the airlines, and how binding those are?

SENATOR RICHARDSON -How binding?

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -How binding in terms of to what extent is there a ` commitment' to provide a service in all circumstances?

SENATOR NEWMAN -Under what circumstances, for example, can the Navy say, `We cannot afford to leave that plane there any longer, we will have to withdraw that'? Is it bound to provide so many planes for so long, or open ended, forever?

DR MCINTOSH -No. I think the answer is that you may draw your own conclusions from whatever the Minister is prepared to release to you.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Well we are not banking on that: that is why we are trying to get some more information now. He would believe in freedom of information: there is no security matter involved and it is in the national interest.

DR MCINTOSH -As you are probably aware, there is a freedom of information request in now on the issue, so I suspect that what you have asked for will be picked up in that environment as well.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -In any event we will check with the Minister in accordance with your requests.

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -In particular, if no legal advice had been sought, why not?

ACTING CHAIRMAN -That is a good question. What is the fee?

SENATOR MICHAEL BAUME -That is all I wanted to ask.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Could I ask the Army about uniform questions? During the April Estimates I was told by Major-General Francis that the CGS had initiated a plan to speed up the distribution of DP uniforms and the Department was investigating where the money would be found to implement the plan. What has been the outcome of this plan, and where did the money come from?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -In essence the answer which I gave you this morning about the issue to the whole Army of the disruptive pattern uniform, the load carrying equipment and so on is the outcome of that. We were also looking for money for the female-male equivalent uniform, and that was also found. I cannot answer you in detail now about where we found the money, except to say that it was by a rearrangement of other planned expenditure within the Army operating costs votes, including minor capital.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Were you looking at not maintaining a building, so that you could kit out your personnel?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I cannot answer that directly.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Do you mean that you would rather not?

DR MCINTOSH -It would not be buildings, may I assure you. It is a different appropriation.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I thought that was the only place that they could find any money-by once again not maintaining facilities.

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I think there was some contribution by the Army controlled R and M vote for buildings, but I am sorry, I do not have the figures immediately to hand.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I thought you could only find a couple of million from that source and that you needed something like $25m.

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -The $25m for what, Senator?

SENATOR NEWMAN -For uniform requirements for the next couple of years for the Army. Is that not roughly correct?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -All I can say at this stage is that we went across a number of votes and we found a bit here and a bit there. We finally found enough money to pay for those uniform initiatives.

SENATOR NEWMAN -You have enough flexibility in the management of your budgetary programs to do that?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -We can do that within what are loosely called the Army's operating costs votes, excluding the cash limit administrative expenses votes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I think I had better get a brief on it at some time, rather than now.

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -We can get you more details, if you like.

MR IVES -I could elaborate on that for the Senator. The appropriations come to Defence in total. There are in fact now three main appropriations that have something more than 80 per cent of Defence expenditure in them, and that is what are called running costs, which have the salaries plus the cash limited administrative expenses, the equipment and stores vote and the property facilities and property operations vote. Within those three appropriations we have a fair degree of flexibility. The difficulty arises that there are only two times in the year that you could actually effectively move money between those appropriations. They have to be done either in the Budget Appropriations or in the Additional Estimates. There is a process that says, `We try to put it in the right votes in the first place', but within those appropriations there is flexibility globally for Defence and, certainly, flexibility within each office allocation for each of those appropriations. Then at Additional Estimates there is a process of saying, `Perhaps we can now make some other rearrangements'. Compared with several years ago there is now very much more flexibility.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I was surprised to hear that that was an option-not painting your building so that you could outfit your troops-because I thought they were in pockets, that you could not move from one to the other. Is that now out of date?

MR IVES -I guess we always have been able to move it, but we were only able to do it by changing appropriations. Now, with the aggregation of the appropriations, if we decided to spend less on fuel and more on uniforms, whereas in the past that would have had to have gone through an appropriation process that can now be done by an arrangement with the Department of Finance.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So you have a bit more authority?

MR IVES -It has proved, I think, very successful.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Going back to DP uniforms, I understand that during K89 many Army Reserve personnel had DP uniforms, when members of 2 Cav. did not. That was seen as rather poor for morale by the regular soldiers, who were constantly saying to their superiors, `Why is this so?'. Who determines who is issued DP uniforms, in cases where it is not the geographical distribution model?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -What we have chosen to do in the particular case of the DPCU is to issue it geographically to all units of the Regular Army and the Reserve in that area. In the case of the DPCU, we started in Queensland. The 2 nd Cavalry Regiment is based in New South Wales and therefore probably has not got theirs yet, although it must be fairly close. The decision is made by the Assistant Chief of the General Staff Operations, and it is implemented by logistic command.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So the reservists who had them would have been from Queensland --

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -Yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Like the regulars, and it was just that that was the State you had supplied at the time of the exercise?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -That is correct.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Can I have a copy of the Army Office's staff instruction 7/88 which deals specifically with these uniforms, and any amendments?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I am sure you can. I do not recognise that number, but we will chase it up.

SENATOR NEWMAN -It is just bedside reading, you see. Thank you. Can you tell me how often the Army supply manual comes out?

REAR ADM. DOOLAN -No, I cannot. I would have to take that on notice.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I wondered whether it was an annual thing.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Frankly, I am not familiar with the document.

SENATOR NEWMAN -If it has been an annual thing, could I have a copy of each of the last five financial years? I do not quite know what I am asking for, there: I do not know whether I am asking for a library or a few thin pamphlets .

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I suggest the former.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Yes. There are probably several volumes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -One per year? Perhaps I could ask for the last year, and if that seems more than enough I might stay at that.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you. Why is it that some soldiers are wearing uniforms that they have grown out of? Is it because there are not enough supplies?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -There is no significant shortage of uniforms, other than jungle greens. Although there are shortages from time to time in particular sizes, they are generally remedied in reasonably short order.

SENATOR NEWMAN -In the Senate in September, Senator Chapman asked Senator Richardson why the Army spent $6.5m on an advertising push for new recruits in the 12 months to May this year when it could not clothe them. He was talking about an 18-year-old soldier who had been forced to carry a note from his superior officer excusing his manner of dress because he was forced to wear his combat dress for eight months because the Army could not find a uniform to fit him. Is that incorrect?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -A ministerial brief was prepared on that soldier. My recollection is that there was adequate explanation for this but I am not aware of the details.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I think I gave an extra answer on that in the Senate.

SENATOR NEWMAN -There was an additional answer. It was not reported and I missed the turn.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I think there was and I think it was something to do with a particularly difficult size, some extraordinary size and they were having difficulty getting anyone to make it, from memory, but I just cannot recall the exact details.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Nor can I.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -I could almost have that checked for you today.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Can you tell me why redundant items such as AB boots and white gloves for females are being issued to Reserve soldiers?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -No. Could I check? I am sure they are not infantrymen.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I am sure they are not infantrymen either. However, I understand also that certain overseas forces are showing an interest in buying Australian made military uniforms. What articles were they referring to? Perhaps they also want white gloves. Are you aware of that?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -No, I am not aware of any interest in our uniforms. No, I cannot recall any.

VICE-ADM. BEAUMONT -There was some interest in naval uniforms, if I recall, from the Royal Navy. I think it eventually settled not for the uniform but to acquire cloth from Australia, mainly for white uniforms.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I understand the Australian Trade Commission's textile, clothing and footwear manager, Mr Tony Cleg, said in July that overseas defence forces were showing an increased interest in buying Australian made military uniforms.

MR IVES -That probably involves Australian Defence Industries, or what was the clothing factory. The ADI was probably dealing direct in that sense and not with sales of ADF uniforms I would have thought.

SENATOR NEWMAN -That might be so because Mr Cleg said that Austrade was now establishing a register of Australian textile clothing and footwear companies interested in tendering for overseas military requirements and that would then include ADI.

MR IVES -Yes, it would.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Could you tell me why we have a shortage of slouch hats given that Akubra hats, which is the supplier, claims that it is on schedule with its contract?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -The slouch hat has not been classified as a sensitive or critical item over the last 12 months. There is a grade 1 hat, which is the ceremonial hat, and there is a grade 2 hat which is used for bush purposes. The only problem we have had with the slouch hat is a shortage of the grade 2 hat during exercise K89. That shortage was in the vicinity of some 200, and there are presently no grade 2 stocks available, but there are no problems with the grade 1 ceremonial type hat.

SENATOR NEWMAN -That explains something else I was going to ask. But I understood also that recruits going into Kapooka a few months ago were not being issued with slouch hats because you had none available. So they would have been grade 2 as well, would they not?

Major-Gen.Fitzgerald-They may well have been, yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -But you are saying there is no problem with them now?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -No, with grade 1.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Grade 1 and grade 2 are both--

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -We have no stocks of grade 2 at this stage.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What is the reason?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I would think the issues for exercise K89 would have been the prime factor in that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -That you had a sudden burst-that you needed more than the normal flow through Akubra.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -The grade 2 hat, if I could repeat, is a second-hand hat.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So where do you have to get a second-hand hat from?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -From the Q-store. Grade 1 hats when handed back become grade 2 hats.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So you have run out of grade 2 hats because not enough people are handing in grade 1s?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -It could well be.

SENATOR NEWMAN -And when will the supply improve?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -As to grade 2 hats, I cannot answer that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So are we still recruiting people we cannot put into a slouch hat?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I would have to take that on notice. You are referring specifically to 1RTB?

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes. It seems to me the image of an Australian soldier is a man in his combat uniform and his slouch hat.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Senator, I would have to take that on notice.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes, I am concerned about that. It just seems that is our symbol. Is it correct that the Army bush hat is to be redesigned?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -No. The bush hat is part of the disruptive pattern clothing combat uniform and it is basically the old style in the disruptive pattern.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Could you tell me why it is that uniform essentials such as rank boards and epaulets for female summer dress are in such short supply-and they have been so for some time-that some people have been asked to share them .

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I am not aware that they are in short supply. If they are, they are not listed as sensitive or critical. That is not to say that there are not shortages in particular areas.

SENATOR NEWMAN -As I understand it, some female officers have been asked to lend their epaulets to other female officers, say going on courses, and to wear civilian dress while the other officers are on the courses. It seems to me that we have got to a pretty desperate stage if we cannot give people badges of rank. I understand that this is not restricted to female officers. I think the Navy had problems with boards a few months ago.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I really cannot comment.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What is the problem? Is it money or is it supply? Why are we having these shortages?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I do not manage that part of the program; but from my general knowledge we do not have enough money to maintain all the things that we need to maintain, and shortages will continue to occur.

SENATOR NEWMAN -How long are we going to be in a position where we cannot give badges of rank to people? That seems to be pretty basic.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -Has anyone here confirmed that we cannot give badges of rank to people?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I cannot answer that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I can assure you it is absolutely 100 per cent accurate.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -Who is the General in charge of badges?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -Not me!

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I cannot comment, really.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I know you cannot answer. I assure you it is a fact, and I would like an answer as to what is going to be done about it. I was advised last week by one headquarters clothing store, after an Australia-wide search, that there are none of these epaulets left in Australia and that the only thing would be to try and buy them at Christies. For Reserve officers this means that the uniforms cannot be worn at all, because the officer has nothing on which to wear rank. Is this considered as adequate, given that new female uniforms will apparently not be issued for approximately 30 months?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Certainly if it is so it is not considered adequate. I cannot comment on whether it is so or not.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Could you tell me then what Reserve direct entry officers and new recruits to officer cadet training unit do in the interim?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -No, because I am not aware of the problems.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What should happen in a case where you cannot put people into uniform, and they are meant to operate and be treated as officers. How can a soldier know whether he or she is meant to give courtesies to an officer or not?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Are you talking about trainee officers at this stage, and badges of rank for trainee officers?

SENATOR NEWMAN -No: people who have actually come in.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I am sorry, I cannot answer that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What can they do? They are meant to be in a unit without uniform or badges of rank. Are any dates available as to when the new female uniform will be issued? As I have heard, it will be 30 months.

MAJOR-GENERAL FRANCIS -I have just signed to the Minister the request for his approval for that project. At the moment our estimate is that the summer dress will be available in October 1991, with winter dress in the following April; so the first uniforms are about two years away. Once we have the Minister's approval, and we are in the process of actually managing the project, I will then look at ways to speed that up; but at this stage I cannot predict whether we will be able to do so or not.

SENATOR NEWMAN -It gets worse and worse, does it not?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -That is less than 30 months.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I do not think it is, by the time you--

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -We are expecting, at the moment, that the summer dress is two years away from now.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes.

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I would hope that I can do something to bring that further forward, but I cannot guarantee that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -And the winter dress?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -The winter dress the following April.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you. Are clothing and other stores computerised Australia-wide?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I will take it on notice. I think not.

SENATOR NEWMAN -This could be one of the reasons why we run into shortages and then I am told that we are not short. In that you are taking it on notice, would you also take this on notice: If they are not, when are they going to be ?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I was about to say to you that I doubt that we will be able to give you a definitive answer on when it will be-precisely.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Which sounds as though it is not. I am told that the SAS are purchasing their webbing from a private Western Australian company called Webforce. What is wrong with what the Army provides?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -Senator, this is something that has been going on for some time. There are two possible reasons for it. The first is that soldiers are no different from anyone else and they like to try other people's products and often they are quite prepared to do that at their own expense. The second reason is that a large number of soldiers have seen the existing equipment, which we have had in service for some years, as being inadequate and they think that they can buy something better. They not only buy from that company, but also in the past they have bought from companies like Paddy Pallin's. I believe that once we have the new webbing in service, starting in November this year, the need for that will disappear.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you, General. I would have thought that $300 for a set of webbing is not something that they would do on a whim. It is a fairly serious matter for somebody on a soldier's pay to turn around and equip himself with webbing for $300. It must be that he regards it as a good deal better than what he can get from the Army.

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -Yes. I believe though that my answer still stands. There are those two reasons. The grass is always greener on the other side of the street and their perception was that the equipment that we were offering-which we had had in service for quite some time-was not as good as they could get under their own resources. And I think that was probably true. It had become outmoded and we are now replacing it with an upgraded set of equipment which I believe will meet their purposes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -It has to be very green for $300 a set, has it not? The managing director of Webforce said that one of the reasons the soldiers preferred his equipment was that they had had a say in its design. Do the soldiers not have a say in the design of the webbing that you are now going to produce?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -The equipment that we have currently in service-if I remember rightly; it was introduced into service before I was involved in this business-is of American origin and it is a pretty standard design. We have had a great deal of user input into the equipment which we are now manufacturing and which we will start issuing in November.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I think at Singleton the shop at the infantry centre there turns over approximately $2,000 a week in private army equipment sales to regular soldiers. It seems to suggest that there are an awful lot of items that the soldiers think they need that they cannot get through the Army. Are you aware of that, General?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I am aware that there is a shop there; I have no idea what its turnover is but my answer is that it is essentially the same problem.

SENATOR NEWMAN -People do not usually like to spend their good money if they can get it for free, do they?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I agree. However, I think both of the reasons that I have specified do still apply. No matter how good our equipment is, the grass is always greener on the other side of the street.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Why do Norforce soldiers have to buy their own binoculars? Is that because they are greener on the other side of the street or is it because those that are handed down are worn out and effectively useless?

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -I would have to hand that question back to the DCGS.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -There is a shortage of binoculars within Norforce. Indeed, there is a shortage of a number of surveillance equipments, which we need to remedy; it is a matter of when we can do so; I would not be optimistic of doing it within this financial year. Certainly Exercise K89 demonstrated a shortcoming in the surveillance kit of Norforce and, indeed, of the other two regional force surveillance units.

SENATOR RICHARDSON -Excuse me, Senator Newman, I do have here the extra answer which I gave to Senator Chapman, or a Hansard copy of it. I do not think there is much point in reading it out, given that it is already in Hansard, but I might give it to you for your information. It is on that tall soldier with big feet.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Thank you. I have finished with the uniform but there is just a question about the micro-imaging record system. In the achievements for 1988 -89 was listed the transfer of the personnel records of all active service members to the micro-imaging record system. What is the benefit of such a transfer, why is this better, and what information will now be available?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -The CMRS system is really our first step towards a state-of-the-art paperless office and it is used by our central Army records office. The benefits of the system are very fast access time to a document, less than 20 seconds; improved physical security; simultaneous access by a number of staff of the central Army records office; and a considerably reduced paper storage requirement in the workplace.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So altogether it is going to be much better?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Absolutely.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it correct that with mainstream Army Reserve training two types of ration packs are allocated: one-man ration packs, CR1M, and 10-man ration packs, CR10?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I would think so, yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -In the first six months of this training year one particular Army Reserve formation was allocated 200 CR one-man and 2,330 CR 10-man. To properly conduct the infantry initial employment training course in October 1989 this unit should have five CR one-man packs per student. They are expecting 120 students and therefore need 600 CR one-man ration packs which is well in excess of what the unit received-200. The option for this brigade is to turn students away or accept a lower standard of training. Could you tell me what option the Department and the Defence Force supports?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I find the options rather stark, I would have to say. It may well be that we are unable to meet this particular formation's requirement for one-man ration packs, but by the same token I think most people in the Services have been adequately fed by breaking up 10-man ration packs. It is not ideal but it is certainly feasible, and I would really baulk at a proposition that they would have to cancel training because of the lack of one-man rations.

SENATOR NEWMAN -They did not in fact decide to turn students away; they decided to accept a lower standard of training because it did not involve safety. Can you tell me whether supplies are so bad within Army that the required ration packs could not be found? Is this a budgetary problem or is it some other sort of a problem?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Without knowing the organisation to which you are referring, I cannot answer the question. In so far as it is a budgetary problem, I would suggest that it is not in combat rations: my understanding is that we have allocated adequate resources for combat rations. It may be, however, that we are unable to provide the most desirable break-up between one -man and 10-man rations.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is this a typical problem?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I do not know. It is the first time that anybody has raised the problem with me.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I expect you might have a little look at it. Turning to ammunition, is it correct that there is insufficient mortar and assault pioneer ammunition to adequately train Reserve soldiers and to keep qualified mortarmen qualified?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I initially took on notice the question of mortar ammunition. Without knowing the specifics of the types of ammunition for assault pioneer training, I could not say. It may well be that there are some. The ammunition which I know is in short supply and which could impinge on assault pioneers' training is coloured smoke grenades. I have not been advised of any other nature of ammunition which is in short supply and which would affect assault pioneer training.

SENATOR NEWMAN -With regard to the mortarmen, I understand that one formation opted to keep the qualified soldiers at the minimum safe standard and reduce the number of additional soldiers that it could qualify as mortarmen as a result of the ammunition problem, and that this is also the same with demolition ammunition. This would surely affect operational capability and morale, would it not?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Indeed.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Can you tell my why this is happening?

Major-Gen. Fitzgerald-No.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I presume demand has not dramatically increased or anything?

Major-Gen. Fitzgerald-No. As I have said, I will take the question of the mortar ammunition on notice, but it is not listed as an item in short supply. It may well be that what constitutes a minimum safe level of training is a subjective judgment of the organisation to which you are referring.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it correct that 1 RAR has recently had a 60 per cent cut in 7.62 millimetre rifle ammunition?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -No, I would have to take that on notice. I do not know why. There is no shortage of 7.62mm ammunition.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Well, if you are taking it on notice, perhaps you would also get me the reason for it and whether this is also the same for 2/4 RAR, and whether any other units have been affected in the same way. Is it correct that newly qualified tradespersons are being selectively held over in army training schools at the completion of their trade training to perform unskilled labouring tasks such as kitchen hand, hygiene worker, gardeners, labourers and cleaning duties.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Some are.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Why is that?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Specifically to carry out those tasks. There is a concern, particularly in training command units, that because of the reductions in the number of civilian staff available who might normally do these things, for instance, ground maintenance, people are simply not available and the work has to be done.

SENATOR NEWMAN -So it is a direct result of the holding down of manning levels ?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -That is one of the causes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it not a reversal of army policy on the employment of qualified tradespersons?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -We would certainly prefer not to have to do it.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Has an instruction gone out to this effect?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -To what effect?

SENATOR NEWMAN -To hold these trainees.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -No, I suggest it is the prerogative of the losing organisation, the Training Command establishment, in consultation with the receiving organisation, whether it is Land Command or Logistic Command. But I do know that consultation occurs between those functional areas before any soldiers are held back to perform the types of duties you are referring to.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Can you tell me what sort of effect the retention of tradespersons is having on morale?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -They say it is not only tradespeople. I am not quite sure what connotation you are putting on that. There are unskilled people as well involved in it. I suggest that it is something that they would not look forward to and that they would be looking forward to moving to their units as soon as they possibly could. But I cannot generalise on the implications for morale, except to say that it is not a desirable situation.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I understand that seven out of a course of 35 will be held over. Is that your understanding?.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Where, Senator?

SENATOR NEWMAN -In the various Army training schools, like the Armoured Centre , or SME, or the Infantry Centre.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -The numbers do not mean anything, seven out of 35.

SENATOR NEWMAN -The Army's need is such that approximately seven out of 35 will need to be held over for those weeks in order to cover the manpower deficiencies.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I do not know and nor could I confirm that unless I knew the organisation that you are speaking about.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Can you tell me how many training establishments this policy is being applied to?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Senator, I would not describe it as a policy. It is something that we have to do and I would think that it would apply to most of them.

SENATOR NEWMAN -What is happening to, say, Land Command units that have to do without these people?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -They bear the shortage. The soldiers are not held back unless there is due consultation with Land Command.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it correct that the Deputy Chief of the Defence Force has instructed Land Command, Logistic Command, Training Command, the headquarters of the seven military districts, RMC, JSSC and the Assistant Secretary Defence Industrial Branch to provide Army Office with a nominated list of civilian positions available for reduction as part of a civilian manpower reduction for financial year 1989-90?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -Yes.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Are these civilian positions nominated for cutback no longer warranted, or would it be correct to say the positions are still valid and that military staff will now perform in them?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -That is a very difficult question to answer as a generality. I would think that, in some instances, where it is essential that the job be done, military staff will have to do it.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Is it correct that these positions which have been nominated for reduction are to be free of any establishment or manning restrictions?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I do not understand the implication of that.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I think I will slide over that one. I would like to ask a couple of questions relating to 2 Div. dispatch. I understand that the 2 Div. dispatch Army Reserve newspaper is a very good quarterly newspaper produced at headquarters 2 Div., but is not effectively distributed. I understand that many Army reservists in 2 Div. have not even heard of its existence, even though it has been produced since mid-1988. Could you tell me what its method of distribution is?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -No, I could find out, but it is a 2 Div. matter. I find it surprising that a newspaper which is produced by a formation for the benefit of its members does not get circulated.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Yes, that is why I was curious. I would also like to know how many copies are produced and distributed and how that compares with the serving members in 2 Div.?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I would have to take all that on notice.

SENATOR NEWMAN -Are there other divisional or brigade newspapers similar to that?

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -There may well be, but 2 Div.'s newspaper is the only one I am aware of which goes on a circulation to Army Office. We receive copies of it.

MAJOR-GEN. FRANCIS -Perhaps I could intervene there. The First Division also has its own newspaper called Bayonet.

SENATOR NEWMAN -I wondered whether there were any problems with distribution of similar newspapers or whether just dispatch was having the problem.

MAJOR-GEN. FITZGERALD -I would think it would have to be just dispatch having its problems. It is totally within its purview to ensure that its newspaper is adequately distributed.