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Wednesday, 2 May 1973
Page: 1554


Mr HURFORD (ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Minister for Defence seen recent Press reports that a conflict exists between him and the Department of Defence over a desirable size for the Australian Army? If so, will the Minister say whether there is any truth in these reports?


Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - The House will be aware that I had initially asked for an inquiry to be conducted by the Department of Defence into the size and shape of the Australian Army. The inquiry was headed by Dr John Farrands of the Department of Defence and consisted of representatives of the departments of Defence and of the Army. The correct procedure is for the committee conducting the inquiry to make its report to the Defence Force Development Committee, which consists of the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chiefs of Staff. These people in turn consider the report and would ultimately make their views known to me. The report on the inquiry I asked for has been received by the Defence Force Development Committee; it has not been received by me. It would therefore be impossible to argue that there is any conflict between me and the Department over a report which I have not yet seen.

May I add that I have my own views about the size and shape of the Army, but I will make my judgment as a result of the views that will be submitted to me by the Defence Force Development Committee. May I also say that previous Ministers for Defence had indicated to the Parliament that the minimum size of the Army in Australia should be around 40,000 but no such recommendation was ever made to the Government by the Defence Force Development Committee. The previous Government had placed itself in a position where, because of conscription, it had to give some figure which in its opinion it had to justify on the basis of Australia's strategic requirement at the time. Let me say in conclusion that my decision on the size and shape of the Army will be made as a result of the consideration which I will give to the recommendation that will come to me from the Defence Force Development Committee, and I believe it will be made having regard to other requirements and what I believe are the strategic requirements of Australia in the seventies and the 'eighties. There never has been any conflict between me and the Department, certainly not on a report which I have not yet received.







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