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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1018

Australian Defence Force Academy


Senator JOHNSTON (Western Australia) (14:27): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, Senator Carr. I refer the minister to the decision of the Minister for Defence to abuse his statutory powers in removing Commodore Kafer from his position at ADFA. Under what statutory authority did the minister have the power to remove this highly respected commandant?


Senator CARR (VictoriaMinister for Manufacturing and Minister for Defence Materiel) (14:28): This is a matter which has been the subject of ongoing inquiry. The minister took the view that it was appropriate, in the circumstances, that there be a change in administrative arrangements, and on his own authority he chose to take the actions that he did.


Senator JOHNSTON (Western Australia) (14:29): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The minister has had the Kirkham report into this matter since December last year. Why has the minister sat on this report for more than two months?


Senator CARR (VictoriaMinister for Manufacturing and Minister for Defence Materiel) (14:29): The minister is giving this issue very careful consideration.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Carr is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator CARR: There are a number of privacy and legal issues which need to be addressed and it would be premature to discuss the timing of the arrangements of any possible release of the report.




Senator JOHNSTON (Western Australia) (14:30): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. The highly respected Australian Defence Association have publicly said that Minister Smith has put his personal party leadership ambitions ahead of proper ministerial supervision of Australia's defence efforts. They have not said this lightly. When will this uninterested minister reinstate the highly competent and respected officer to his rightful position, as the Kirkham report is known to have recommended?


Senator CARR (VictoriaMinister for Manufacturing and Minister for Defence Materiel) (14:30): I think that the political comment that you have made, Senator, is a matter for your judgment. It has no bearing whatsoever on the minister's consideration of these issues. I have indicated to you that the minister is considering these questions very carefully, that there are a number of privacy and legal issues that need to be addressed and that it would be premature to release the report. As to any other speculation you may choose to articulate, it is completely irrelevant to the consideration of these matters in the terms that I have outlined.