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Independent auditors to review Special Forces soldiers pay.



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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Tuesday, 03 March 2009 026/2009

INDEPENDENT AUDITORS TO REVIEW SPECIAL FORCES SOLDIERS PAY

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, has provided details of the action taken to ensure any remaining pay concerns of Australian Army Special Forces soldiers and their families could be put to rest.

Following discussions between the Minister, the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston and the Secretary of Defence, Nick Warner a special investigation into the pay of the Special Forces soldiers will be

undertaken.

The CDF and the Secretary have been requested, by the Minister, to engage an independent financial auditor to complete the task thoroughly and efficiently.

The independent audit will be undertaken by KPMG, and will be led by KPMG Partner Nick Baker. The audit will cost around $100,000.

“Although it is a significant amount it is a very small price to pay to ensure our Special Forces soldiers are being treated fairly and receiving all that they are entitled to,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

The audit will be a focused examination with Terms of Reference to determine:

• The effect of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal’s (DFRT) March 2008 determination on Special Forces soldiers and the reasons for any adverse consequences;

• How many soldiers had money deducted from their salaries as a result of Defence's implementation of the DFRT's determination; • What amounts were taken from each and what was the total amount recovered; • How many had recovery action take against them prior to October; • How many had action taken against them between October to the

present; • How many who had money recovered in each period have been recompensed and by how much; • What was the total amount recovered; • What amount has been re-paid; • What was the effect of the Chief of Army's February 18 directive;

• What action should be taken to remedy any outstanding pay issues; • What action should be taken to avoid similar events occurring in the future; and, • Did any Special Forces soldier at any time during this period receive a

zero pay check resulting in him not being paid?

The first report from the auditors will be provided directly to the Minister by 10 March. The final report will be provided a week later.

“The objective of the audit is to settle absolutely, once and for all whether any soldier had his pay deducted after my October directive that recovery action cease,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

In addition to the Independent Audit, Mr Fitzgibbon has directed Defence to:

z Identify any soldiers who still had outstanding claims or concerns

relating to their pay and establish a system to have these cases individually assessed and rectified;

z Report back to the Minister on action taken in response to the

Government's instructions of October 2008 regarding soldiers' pay, and identify any failures in the system that had prevented or delayed, or could potentially prevent or delay, important policy decisions being implemented quickly and correctly;

z Provide and maintain access to an independent mediator to all SAS

and their families.

z Recommend financial assistance services, where appropriate, if

soldiers - especially those serving overseas - requested help managing their accounts;

z Provide a plan on how the Department of Defence will improve its data

collection and management systems, technology, and administration to ensure the recent situation is not repeated.

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664