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Minister must come clean on Defence Reform Program.



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Hon Stephen Martin MP

Shadow Minister for Defence

Federal Member for Cunningham

17 May 1999

 

MINISTER MUST COME CLEAN ON DEFENCE

REFORM PROGRAM

 

The Shadow Minister for Defence, Stephen Martin, today called upon the Minister for Defence to come clean on the Defence Reform Program and the reinvestment of its so-called savings.

 

Mr Martin said, “The 1999/2000 Portfolio Budget Statements have revealed for the first time that over half the predicted savings of the DRP have never, and will never, exist because of the Government’s decision to maintain the ADF at the level of 50 000 people.

 

“It was the original intention of the Government in the Defence Reform Program to cut the ADF back to the dangerously low level of 42 500 personnel, although it did not ever advertise the fact or make any public disclosure prior to the 1998/99 Portfolio Budget Statements.”

 

In December 1997, the Government announced that the force would be maintained at a more credible level of 50 000 full time personnel. The 1999— 2000 Defence Portfolio Budget Statement (1 .4A) reveals that the DRP savings fall short, by the year 2002/2003, by $539 million from the Government’s original total projected savings of $999 million 1 .

 

Mr Martin said: “The then Minister for Defence did not inform the people of Australia, or the Parliament, that this meant that over half the DRP savings would not be realised. The budget papers reveal what many have suspected for some time: half the so-called savings of the DRP are the result of a clever smoke and mirrors trick.

 

“It is not acceptable for the Government to construct a series of selective and partial disclosures and force the Australian pubic to have to trawl through detail hidden in Portfolio Budget Statements, and ministerial media releases, to try and get a picture of the true DRP savings.

 

“This is a serious matter of accountability, and the Minister must come clean on the real value of the DRP savings. The Minister must release a full reckoning of the DRP and the reallocation of resources.”

 

More Information: Amanda Forman on (02) 6277 4363 or 0413 602 230.

 

‘This figure does not include Unallocated $ 125m Administrative Savings as these were achieved prior to the DRP.

 

BACKGROUNDER - MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS ON DRP

 

MEDIA RELEASE - MCLACHLAN ANNOUNCES DRP - 11/4/97

 

'There will be a civilian staff reduction of around 3 100 positions. Some 4 700 military positions will be cut from administration and support areas. About half the military positions will be re established in combat and combat support areas.

 

A further 7 000 military and 5 900 civilian positions will be tested in an acceleration of the Commercial Support Program.

 

THIS ANNOUNCEMENT DID NOT MENTION THAT IT WAS PREDICATED ON A FULL TIME FORCE OF 42 500 PERSONNEL. THE ADF NUMBERED 56 500 AT THE TIME THE DRP WAS ANNOUNCED - AND NO OFFICIAL DOCUMENT PUT THE SIZE OF THE PROJECTED FORCE AT 42 500.

 

MCLACHLAN - MINISTERIAL STATEMENT TO THE HOUSE - 30/9/97

 

'The current estimate is that there will be 7 800 service and civilian personnel reductions. It is difficult to be precise about the eventual reduction in numbers because the final figure depends on extent to which the in-house options succeed in commercial support program testing.

 

MEDIA RELEASE - COMBAT FORCE GROWS IN 50 000 STRONG DEFENCE FORCE - 9/12/97

 

'The Minister for Defence, Ian McLachlan today confirmed that the total size of the regular Defence Force will be pegged at around 50 000.

 

Over the next few years this means a reduction of 7 000 in total ADF numbers - from commercialising Service positions in areas such as catering, stores and maintenance... 'Annual savings will be $900 - $1000 million - that is an additional $10 billion over a decade to spend on new equipment, better training and exercising."

 

THIS ANNOUNCEMENT DID NOT INCLUDE THE FACT THAT PEGGING THE ADF AT 50 000 WOULD COST THE TAXPAYER OVER HALF OF THE PROJECTED DRP SAVINGS.

 

MEDIA RELEASE - DEFENCE BUDGET REAFFIRMS GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO DEFENCE - 1215198

 

'The achievement of these savings is expected to result in staff reductions of some

3 800 military and 1 765 civilian positions and market testing of 11200 military and

5 300 civilian positions in support areas. The December 1997 decision-to maintain a

50 000 strong Australian Defence Force (ADF), with an expansion of combat positions u p to 65% will see a substantial reinvestment in ADF personnel.

 

jk  1999-05-19  11:24