Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Bureaucratic inertia will kill off defence reform unless minister acts-Durack

Download PDFDownload PDF



SENATOR PETER DURACK, Q C Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Shadow Minister for Defence


"Defence reform will not work unless the Minister pushes the Department of Defence to introduce changes more quickly."

The Shadow Minister for Defence, Senator Peter Durack, was commenting on a declassified Cabinet paper discussing the closure of the naval base HMAS Nirimba.

"This document shows all the classic hallmarks of a departmental attempt to bring the reform process to a grinding halt.

"It shows that since 1984 there have been 15 separate studies into the future of Navy technical training establishments, most of which have recommended the closure of HMAS Nirimba.

"But despite seven years of studies, Navy claims they do not have enough information to say what would be the most cost-effective way to provide trade training.

"The paper also shows that the then Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Hudson, advised the Defence Minister in 1988 that Nirimba could be closed in four years with training relocated to HMAS Cerberus.

"Now, Navy believes that the earliest this could happen is 1998, and the paper says that there is 'unlikely to be any compulsion to move prior to about 2010.'

"The document also says that no savings could be realised from the move for almost two decades.

"It is remarkable that Navy is sure about this last point when they cannot produce costings for any other aspect of the move", Senator Durack said.

"The paper proves that the Minister for Defence must be prepared to shake the inertia out of a sluggish and unresponsive


"Without this drive, bureaucratic inertia of this sort will kill off the urgently needed defence reform process."

(ends) 3 September 1991 (38)

More Information: Peter Jennings (06) 277 3725. Note: Copies of the declassified document are available from Senator Durack's office.

Telephone: 09/221 1277 06/277 3725. Facsimile: 09/221 3350 06/277 3169

Durack.. ./2

Extracts from: HMAS Ni-rimbas The Wav Ahead (Directorate of Naval Policy and Doctrine May 1991) . Declassified Cabinet Discussion Paper.

Reports produced on Navy trade-training rationalising proposals * McCaffrie Report (1984) * Taylor Report (1985) * Hugonnet Report (1985) * Adams Report (1987) * Auditor General Annual Report (1987) (Section on Navy

Apprenticeship Training) * Cooksey Review of Australia's Defence Facilities (1987) * DFND Study, " Report on Phase One of the Cost Benefit

Analysis of the RAN's Shore Training Infrastructure" (1988) * Naval Long Range Plan (Plan Blue) 1989 * NIRIMBA Paper, Rationalisation of Technical Training (1989) * Wrigley Report (1990) * DNTE Report "Technical Training for the Future" * Force Structure Review (1991) * Wrigley Interdepartmental Committee Report (1991) * Training rationalisation Project (Started 1989) * Project Streamline (Started 1988 relating to Navy training)

Lack of information relating to costs

"Consideration of the Wrigley Report re-emphasised the

significant lack of cost date available to managers. Options to make greater use of civilian infrastructure could not be pursued with certainty because the current cost of providing services in unknown. despite starting to cost courses back in 1986 and the

implementation of Program Management and Budgeting on 1 July 1990, we still cannot say with certainty what the cost of the total training function is with any certainty or provide cost figures for more than a handful of courses. " (Para 38)

Inability to establish timing for relocation

"When CNS briefed the Minister on the proposed closure of NIRIMBA in August 1988 he envisaged that the transfer could be completed in about four years from the start of construction, then seen as being 1991-92. In comparison [the Hugonnet report] proposed a

four stage move over ten years. ... The previous consideration implies that January 1998 probably represents the earliest practical date to close NIRIMBA. There is unlikely to be any compulsion to move prior to about 2010." (Para 110)


" While it is clear that consolidation of technical training offers some savings in the long term, it will be almost two

decades before any of these returns are realised." (Para 116)