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Government must address concerns of serving men and women.

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Robert McClelland MP Shadow Minister for Defence Federal Member for Barton

24 August 2006


Since Dr Nelson became Defence Minister six and a half months ago he has variously committed to fill the Army’s existing vacancies, expand its size by 1,500 and grow it by another 3,000 troops again.

Despite these commitments Dr Nelson has been unable to turn around the Government’s military recruitment and retention failures.

The Governments own records - the latest Defence Annual Report and the 2006 Portfolio Budget Statement - show that:

• the army will reduce in size over the next 12 months; • last year’s recruitment target only achieved a 77 percent success rate (or fell approximately 1,200 short); and • the Army’s separation rate last year was 14 percent - up from 9 percent in 2004.

Only this month the Government released some alarming survey findings of ADF and Defence personnel. Significantly the Defence Attitudes Survey found:

• 63% of Army personnel are unsatisfied with their salaries (compared to 50% of Defence civilian employees); • 65% of Army personnel believe postings are having a negative impact on their spouses employment; and • 55% respondents with dependents said that postings were negatively affecting

their children’s education;

Perhaps most importantly, this survey found that one third of Defence’s personnel are actively looking for other work.

The Government can issue all the media statements it likes. But these survey results show that the Government has Buckley’s chance of turning around declining defence numbers without addressing fundamental concerns of serving men and women.

Federal Labor supports increasing Army numbers so we can better contribute to regional security challenges. But these targets won’t be achieved without a fundamental change in approach.

The bottom lines is that to turn around failing recruitment and retention the Government must comprehensively address outdated ADF conditions of service, salaries that aren't keeping pace with average weekly earnings and become more sensitive to alleviating the particular pressures on defence families.

Further information:

Glenn Kolomeitz 0402343407