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Thursday, 23 September 1999
Page: 10392

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is to the Minister for Defence and it follows very much the answer that he has just given. Have you seen the comments today of Major General Warren Glenny, the President of the Defence Reserves Association, stating that the government has left it too late to recruit extra troops to allow rotation of forces in East Timor? Is it also correct that the ADF has only met half of its reserve recruiting target for the last financial year? Minister, now that defence reserves are being called upon, have you directly approached the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business requesting immediate changes to the Workplace Relations Act to allow defence reserve leave to be reintroduced as an allowable matter in employment awards? If you haven't, why haven't you? Will you give an undertaking to the House that you will pursue this matter urgently?

Mr MOORE (Defence) —I am aware of the comments made by General Glenny. I disagree. We are in a position, because of the foreplanning of the government in raising a second brigade in readiness, as I said just a minute ago, to keep 4,500 Australian forces in East Timor for at least a year and rotate. That is genuine forward planning and it does not show any shortage of personnel or resources.

Some members of the Reserve have volunteered to go to East Timor; some have volunteered to join the permanent force. Those elements of the reserves that we have asked to serve in that area are doing so on a purely voluntary basis. In the meantime other questions of direct detail about the reserves should be directed to the assistant minister.