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Ray's bluster shows complacency about our weak combat capability

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SENATOR PETER DURACK, QC Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Defence

R a y 's b l u s t e r sh o w s c o m pl a c e n c y a b o u t o u r w e a k c o m b a t c a pa bility

The Department of Finance has said that it is "feasible" for Defence to achieve savings to the order of up to $250 million a year.

Their figures say that this amounts to a cumulative saving of at least $500 million over three years.

In my Media Statement of this morning, I identified savings to the order of $108 million which can be made from administrative cuts.

That amounts to a cumulative saving of $324 million over three years without any loss of personnel.

Table 16.1 of the Fight Back package only identifies new savings over the three year program.

But of course, these savings will accumulate over the total three year period.

It should be noted that cumulative Defence expenditure over the comparable three year period will be in the order of $28 billion.

Senator Ray should compare apples with apples. In the Senate today, he clearly misunderstood some fundamental elements of the GST application to Defence.

He misunderstood that GST will not be applied to Defence expenditure by saying that GST would be applied to Defence purchases and therefore increase their costs.

This is not so, the Fight Back package clearly says that there will be a Zero Rating for Defence on GST. (See page 15 of Fight Back Supplementary Paper number five.)

He is also wrong to say that Defence has been excluded from access to redundancy payments.

Senator Ray's bluster does not hide the fact that the Defence Force is under-gunned, but over-staffed in support and bureaucratic areas.

Unlike Senator Ray, we will not engage in a facile defence of the status-quo. The Coalition is committed to strengthening our combat capabilities and cutting unnecessary administration. This will be achieved by implementing the Fight Back package.

(ends) 11 december 1991 (64) More Information: Peter Jennings (06) 277 3725

C OmM O N vv EALTri p a r l i a m e n t a r y LIBRARY MlCAH Telephone: 09/221 1277 06/277 3725. Facsimile: 09/221 3350 06/277 3169