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Defence Minister at RSL seminar



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COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA fi 1 3 . a

EMBARGO: 10.00 a.m. 11 October 1975

M I N I S T E R F O R D E F E N C E

P A R L I A M E N T H O U S E

C A N B E R R A A .C . T . 2600

M E D I A R E L E A S E

DEFENCE MINISTER AT R.S.L. SEMINAR

The Minister.for Defence, Mr Bill Morrison, today charged the

Liberal & National Country Parties with woeful neglect of Australia's

defences.

Mr Morrison was speaking at the Central Coast Defence Symposium

organised by the R.S.L. at The Tuggerah Lakes Memorial Club. It was his first

public speech since the announcement of the Opposition's defence policy and

the publication of the Government's 1975 Defence Report this week.

He said the Liberal and National Country Parties had squandered

hundreds of millions of dollars in futile military operations in Viet Nam.

"The same money spent in Australia could have ensured a far more

adequate defence structure for this country," Mr Morrison said.

"In its last, five years of office, the previous government

deliberately ran down the purchase of equipment.. We inherited that legacy of

neglect, but this year's record Defence budget of $1800m has helped to restore

the right balance." . · .

The Defence Minister said spending on equipment had increased by

'80% in the current budget.

"We are committed to providing the Defence Force with the best

equipment most suited to Australia's defence needs. The Defence Force today

is a body of highly-skilled, well-trained, dedicated men and women, and they

deserve the best we can give them." .

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Mr Morrison said the decisions to buy the Rapier guided missile

- system, the Leopard tank, the Orion maritime patrol aircraft, a new

heavy transport ship and a fleet of new patrol boats proved the Government's

determination to equip the armed forces adequately for their vital role.

"The Labor Government has introduced a new realism into defence thinking

in Australia. We have moulded a defence policy which is realistic, rational and

reliable. It is based on a sober assessment of Australia's strategic interests,

and not on the wild and woolly emotional outbursts that have typified so many

comments on defence by armchair strategists and yesterday's experts."

Mr Morrison .pointed out that the.Army was now the largest all^volunteer

force in Australia's peacetime history.

"We don't have to resort, to a National Service lottery. Re^etigagement

rates are running at a record.high level, the recruiting situation is buoyant,

and officer resignations.are dropping dramatically."

On the controversial decision to disband the School Cadets,

Mr Morrison explained that it was the unanimous advice of the country's top

military advisers - all of them serving officers - that the cost of running

the cadets was net justified. ' . ■

"I was most interested to see that the Opposition parties have at

last realised··:.this. The policy manifesto launched by Mr Killen this week

contained no pledge, to restore the school cadets

The Defence Minister said there, was certainly room.for adventure

training in the school curriculum, and he hoped that the N.S.W. Education

Minister, Sir Eric Willis, would take steps to acknowledge this.

"The Liberal & National Country Parties have not only accepted our

policy on cadets, they have also come round to our way of thinking on the basic

question of. a defence policy. They have finally abandoned the futile and outmoded

.policy of "forward defence", anti they now accept that the Labor party's concept

of continental defence is the right policy for Australia." , '

EMBARGO: 10,00 a.m. 11 October 1975