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ALP concerned about naval safety.

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Media Release Hon Arch Bevis MP Federal Member for Brisbane Shadow Minister for Defence Planning, Procurement and Personnel

Assisting the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations


Labor today called for the public release of a report into safety in the Royal Australian Navy.

Media reports of a survey into Navy safety show an alarming problem with concerns by Navy personnel.

The report by Zeal Consulting showed:

● Forty per cent of sailors did not understand the Navy’s safety policy. ● Forty per cent did not report all near misses/incidents. ● Forty per cent “think management trade safety for operational deadlines and goals”.

Shadow Minister for Defence Personnel Arch Bevis said: “It is unacceptable that the safety of Navy personnel is put at risk by tight deadlines and the development of an attitude which does not report near misses.”

Mr Bevis added: “By the time this survey was done late last year, a large number of sailors had seen duty in the Persian Gulf - the worst possible time for these types of concerns to be held.”

“The report also highlighted an attitude of shooting the messenger when a problem was identified. This is a very dangerous development for the defence forces. Lives are put at risk if this occurs.”

Labor welcomes the fact that the RAN has recognised that it needs to lift its game on safety. “Our nation’s defence personnel deserve better support than the report has revealed,” Mr Bevis said.

However, the Zeal Report’s findings should not have been suppressed as they were. Such secrecy only serves to undermine the confidence of our sailors that naval safety problems will be fixed.

“In fact, all of these problems run the risk of seriously damaging morale if they are not dealt with properly,” Mr Bevis said.

26th November, 2004

Further information: Rodney Kendall 3356 1555