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Barracks fall apart and the soldier pays

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PETER WH TEM PFederal Member for McPhersonSHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCEMEDIA RELEASED75/88 21 September 1988BARRACKS FALL APART AND THE SOLDIER PAYi COMMONW EALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY C. I. S.Australian soldiers are being forced to buy their own paint to make their living quarters habitable at Holsworthy Army Barracks, New South Wales.In recent years, soldiers have been forced to buy their own ammunition. Perhaps paint is less expensive than ammunition and so the soldiers are marginally better off, but it is a further damning indictment of the state of our Defence Forces.With the current restriction on operating costs, the time may well be coming when soldiers will have to buy both paint and ammunition. Ammunition is already in short supply.The immediate problem at Holsworthy is that in recent years maintenance on the barracks has been reduced by some 60%, and this year has seen a further reduction of another 30%.Most of the barrack buildings are over 20 years old and some considerably older. Much of the accommodation is uninhabitable unless money is spent on very basic items such as paint. These are the items soldiers are being asked to pay for.This state of affairs is a direct result of the obsession the Minister for Defence, Mr Beazley, has for big ticket equipment items. Personnel programmes and maintenance of barracks are of no concern to the Minister.While the Minister continues to treat well educated and highly trained Defence Force personnel as second class citizens, record wastage will continue unabated.Defence Force personnel are being asked to do 'more with less' in order to subsidise the Minister's capital equipment programme.