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Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
25/06/2021
Department of Defence annual report 2019-20

FOX, Major General Natasha, Head of People Capability, Defence People Group, Department of Defence

GROVES, Mr Steven, Chief Finance Officer, Department of Defence

GRZESKOWIAK, Mr Steven, Deputy Secretary, Estate and Infrastructure Group, Department of Defence

SPEDDING, Rear Admiral Philip, Head, Navy Future Infrastructure, Royal Australian Navy

CHAIR: I remind witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee and such action may be treated as a contempt of parliament. It's also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee. In accordance with the committee's resolution at the start of 46th Parliament, this hearing is being broadcast on the parliament's website and the proof and official transcripts of proceedings will be published on the parliament's website in due course. Those present or listening to the proceedings are reminded that recording is permitted and that there is a requirement to fairly and accurately report the proceedings of the committee. If you are requested to provide any additional information, please provide it to the secretariat by 9 July. Please outline your roles before we proceed to questions and general discussion.

Rear Adm. Spedding : I work for the Chief of Navy in terms of identifying Navy's long-term infrastructure planning requirements.

Major Gen. Fox : I'm responsible for workforce planning, recruiting, transitions and family support programs, in the main.

CHAIR: Admiral Spedding, please give us a brief understanding of what it is that you do in Defence, in Defence Estate.

Rear Adm. Spedding : Navy works very closely in terms of planning infrastructure with the estate and infrastructure group. Of course, the estate and infrastructure group is the steward of the Defence estate and actually oversees the construction of new projects and also the maintenance of the Defence estate. Navy's role in the infrastructure planning piece is identifying our capability needs or requirements and then liaising with the EIG to actually shape the projects to meet our requirements and needs.

CHAIR: Is your role specific to Navy or is it across—

Rear Adm. Spedding : That's correct, although we do work closely with Army where there are maritime capabilities involved. But it's predominantly focussed around naval requirements.

CHAIR: Thank you. Mr Grzeskowiak?

Mr Grzeskowiak : The estate and infrastructure group looks after all of the Defence landholdings, builds the facilities on Defence land, maintains them and provides services on Defence bases. The services I'm talking about would be access control as you enter a base, grounds maintenance, building maintenance, hospitality and catering—so cooking, linen, laundry, cleaning—firefighting—

CHAIR: Security?

Mr Grzeskowiak : We call it access control, so providing that layer of physical security through outsourced security providers. We work with all of the groups and services. We call ourselves an enabling group, so we work with, obviously, the three services and other parts of Defence around their requirements: what's needed for their capabilities that are coming along. If you look at our capital infrastructure, there are fundamentally two sources of funding for that. One is directly associated with the capability project. For example, a Joint Strike Fighter project requires specific infrastructure for those airframes, and so we'll talk with Air Force and deliver the infrastructure. Then there's what I call a sustainment line, which is really just to keep Defence bases alive. It might be more living-in accommodation, refurbishing messes, building gymnasiums—the sorts of things that are not for a specific capability but are just to make the base operate and meet the capability needs in the broad of the base population.

CHAIR: Thank you. General Fox, would you like to give us a rundown on what it is that you do?

Major Gen. Fox : Certainly, Chair. My role is to work in the force design cycle—and that's that workforce planning component. We work with the capability managers and right across the department, to actually make sure we have the right workforce for the capabilities that are coming in the future force, and then take that approved force, once approved, into a force-in-being sense, where we're setting the recruiting targets for the in-year recruiting elements for our people right through to the future. So that's at the front end of bringing people into the Australian Defence Force and also planning the job family requirements for the Public Service that are supporting our defence capability as well.

At the tail-end of a person's career, I am also responsible for delivering transition services for our military workforce as they transition from defence into the next phase of what their career might be. In the middle section, in terms of workforce management, I deliver a number of service delivery programs in terms of family support programs, to help retain our people in the Defence Force to ensure that we can deliver people capability. We can't do what we do without the great support of our families, and that's not just spouses; it's also parents, grandparents and children. So we do a range of family support programs for families to support their serving members.

I also have some other smaller organisations that provide support to members. There's the Australian Defence Force Financial Services Consumer Centre, which does financial literacy education for our entire workforce—that's education, not financial planning; I just wanted to make sure I emphasised that. There's SeMPRO, which delivers training in relation to sexual misconduct prevention and teaching our people how to have a safe workplace. SeMPRO also delivers support to people who may be impacted by sexual issues—sexual assaults or unacceptable behaviour. I also work with Defence Families of Australia in terms of workforce management, to advocate for our defence families, and that's, in broad terms, the family support service delivery elements that we have in play. So it's quite broad-ranging. I work with three services and the Public Service so that our programs are delivered at a strategic level but then they can be nuanced to deliver to the capability managers as required.

CHAIR: Thanks, General Fox. Mr Groves?

Mr Groves : 'Chief Finance Officer' is fairly self-explanatory, but I do look after the overall budget and financial management aspects of Defence. I have a group, two-thirds of whom provide embedded financial support right across the organisation; the other third do the conventional sort of central, CFO-type activities for the department. Why am I here? I'm here because one of the areas of interest was around the Defence workforce. My area conducts the biannual—it's currently biannual—census of our external workforce, who are an integrated part of our overall defence workforce. So I am here to support General Fox, should any of the questions go down that path, around our external workforce, which is a very valuable part of the overall defence workforce.

CHAIR: So you're redundancy in relation to financial matters?

Mr Groves : Well, I'm always very happy to cover that, even though I know it wasn't one of the areas of interest of this committee.

CHAIR: Very good. Thank you. I'm going to throw straight to the deputy chair, who I know is seized of workforce issues.

Ms SWANSON: Thank you, Chair! Thanks very much for being with us today. This has been one of my things. For once, Steve, I'm not going to beat you up about PFAS, which must be a relief!

CHAIR: Yet!

Ms SWANSON: I'm really interested in how we are going. I do note that, in the annual report, there are a couple of areas where we haven't quite met our targets, and I'm interested to hear about that and about how we are going to have enough people to utilise the capabilities. Having said that, of course people are capabilities as well, but I'm really exercised about this because I think it's vitally important. So maybe take some time to talk us through it. What are the challenges? I'm not expecting it to all be rosy. How do we work through the challenges?

How do we attract more people? How do we retain more people? How do we get the right calibre of people? I want to have a conversation about that. Please don't feel in any way attacked, General Fox; it's not about that. I really think this is a massive issue and we have to give you support because we've got to have enough people going into the future.

Major Gen. Fox : Thank you. Our entire workforce is set up on an employment framework called the total workforce system. Our people who are in full-time service are in what we call service category 7, and that is a spectrum. Service category 7 is full time. We have some part-time arrangements built into our system now to enable flexible service for people, and that is service category 6. It is still full time but in an official part-time sense with conditions of service attributed accordingly. Service categories 5, 4 and 3 are our reserve workforces. We have around 29,000 people in service categories 5, 4 and 3. Those 29,000 people are available to do service in a particular pattern of service. The majority of our service category 5 people would be in the Army, and they are career managed and deliver a capability within their capacity to serve. They might deliver anything from 20 days right up to perhaps 150 days of service depending on their ability and how we work with them in terms of what we might need them to do. You saw the fantastic reserve capability we delivered throughout the bushfires, and we are doing that again in the COVID-19 assistance that we are providing. Service category 2 is people who leave the military or leave the reserve service that they are providing services in and, for whatever personal circumstance they have at the time, are not able to provide service. We have 10,000 people in that category at the moment.

All up, there are around 40,000 reservists we can call on to provide service if needed. Right across that total workforce spectrum we balance how we deliver capability. That's how we deliver capability flexibly to meet government's requirements. So, rather than being fixed in how we view workforce, we have to view the whole system in what we do. We have to work really closely with industry because they are the employers of our reservists. So it's about making sure industry understands what great value reservists obtain through their reserve service in terms of skilling and leadership and how that can contribute back in an industry sense as well.

Ms SWANSON: What percentage of those reservists are employed by defence industry type organisations? You would hope it might be a high percentage because there would be a predisposition to release them to do what they needed to do and interface them. I am curious about that.

Major Gen. Fox : I don't have that particular percentage on me but I can absolutely get that. We seek that information through a census type arrangement every four years because the employment market is so fluid. I will get that back to you.

That is the reserve workforce and total workforce spectrum. Just so that I have given the full spectrum, I should say that service category 1 is when our APS colleagues might be force assigned into an operation.

Ms SWANSON: I was wondering about service category 1. We didn't get to it. Thank you.

Major Gen. Fox : So that's how the full spectrum works—

CHAIR: Could you please repeat what you said about service category 1.

Major Gen. Fox : It is where our APS colleagues might have to go into an area of operations. We force assign them into that area of operations so that there is some particular Defence Act coverage around what they are doing with the military.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Major Gen. Fox : So that's the spectrum and that's how we deliver capability, and we leverage all elements of the workforce. We did see a surge in terms of the number of reserve days—it was three times higher than the average over the last three years, and even up to five times higher at various points in time—so we know our reservists are delivering great capability to the country.

Ms SWANSON: In relation to COVID, we have seen the ADF do stellar work and assist. On that spectrum, where are those people being drawn from?

Major Gen. Fox : Again, it's a combination of effects. Some people will be drawn from our permanent units, and we rotate forces through. That's right across the Navy, Army and Air Force as well; it's not just static with one organisation providing people. We have an organisational framework set up for command and control of people who are force assigned in to support the COVID approach, and that is absolutely task dependent, so we will surge when we need to for specific tasks. You're seeing that surge occurring now in Victoria, as well, as we support the recovery from the recent floods in that area. Our brigades down in Victoria are delivering support under the framework, and they might be supplemented with additional staff from all around Australia.

Ms SWANSON: And, for example, in Tasmania, you were terrific, when you went down and helped the people who had to be isolated from the hospital, and, effectively, picked up sticks and ran the hospital. These are the sorts of things that we need to talk about as well; it's not only the things where we've got some issues. There have been shining moments. Can you just briefly tell me how that all worked?

Major Gen. Fox : Of course. That's our medical capability. Our medical capability, again, is deployed right around Australia, and we have a substantial number of reservists in our medical capability. We also put some of those reservists on what we would call service category 4—higher-readiness reservists—so that they can respond at much more short notice. I don't know if any of the people that went to Victoria were service category 4; often, they're the aeromedical evacuation teams. But, when they went into Tasmania, into Burnie, we task-organised a group of our specialists together, under a command and control framework, and they went in and you saw them do their job in Burnie. We're trained to come together in various capability bricks and work under a command and control structure to go into areas. Of course, we prefer to deploy already formed bodies, because that's a natural relationship that's already developed, but we have that ability to task-organise as we need, and that's what you're seeing continually in relation to COVID-19. Reservists come in in different numbers and they are mixed with permanent forces, with a command and control construct over the top, to deliver an effect.

Ms SWANSON: Now let's get down to where we've got some gaps.

Major Gen. Fox : Okay. I would also like to say that, at this point in time, the Australian Defence Force is actually less than one per cent under guidance. That's only just over 500 people short of what our funded strength should be. So, technically, we have achieved some good outcomes, beyond the 2019-20 approach, but where we see some risk is, of course, in our middle ranks. It takes time to grow a sergeant or a warrant officer or a captain or a major, because of our training cycle and the professional mastery that we train for at lower levels.

Our separation rates are low at the moment across all three services. In fact, Navy has improved really substantially from the 2019-20 report. Their separation rate is around the six per cent mark at the moment. And we have an additional 200 people in the Navy workforce, so the Navy workforce is growing. Under the Force Structure Plan and the Defence Strategic Update, key capabilities were linked to Navy growth, and you can see that we're achieving that growth now. Army achieved minor growth in the Force Structure Plan, and they're only a small number understrength at the moment in terms of the approved, funded line. But, again, we deliver capability very agilely using the total workforce, and we can bring people into permanent service. Air Force have always maintained a low separation rate, but they are also on a small growth path as we proceed over the forward estimates.

Recruiting for all three services is at around 88 per cent achievement of our overall targets at this point in time. We recruit across the service spectrum: into the reservists, predominantly for Army, but also into permanent forces. Just over 7,000 people a year is our target and, right at this point, we're at 88 per cent.

Now, I'd like to just flag, though, that, in a COVID pandemic, that is actually an incredible achievement. A lot of my Five Eyes partners have had less success in the height of the pandemic. Last year, we had over 2,000 events cancelled. We can't engage with the population in a face-to-face sense, so we have had to pivot really quickly to a digital sense and have digital recruiting events. It's not so much the attraction. You see the attraction campaigns playing out perhaps on TV, perhaps on YouTube and in due course in theatres. When the theatres shut down, there was no attraction in the theatres. To help protect our Indigenous communities, we didn't go into Indigenous communities. Those events are now just opening up, but we're still having to remain agile as circumstances change. Events such as career expos might be scheduled and then cancelled really quickly. Given all that, in context, we've recruited 88 per cent of our targets of great young Australians putting their hands up to come into a career in the ADF.

We did see a spike at the height of the pandemic—a 38 per cent increase in applications to join the Australian Defence Force—but that was in that period of March and April through to August, when what was going to happen was so uncertain. Those applications, I think, were an immediate response to that uncertainty. When things settled down, some of the people who had applied withdrew applications or didn't follow up, so, in terms of our recruiting pipeline, we then saw a dip because we couldn't do that engagement. We're now building that up, in terms of where we're sitting, and when I last checked applications, earlier this year, we were only around 10 per cent under where we should be. But that changes, depending on the pathway you want to enter into defence by. Let's say that, for the ADF, we need to recruit around 8,000 a year. For that, we need around 80,000 applications a year, because of how it converts in relation to people who are demonstrating interest. Once they do different interviews and understand what jobs are available, they may elect not to join, and some may not be suitable to join the Australian Defence Force, based on the requirements of service. So we are under, in terms of our ab initio recruiting targets, but, in relation to people who have had prior service joining, we actually have more people wanting to rejoin.

Ms SWANSON: That's interesting.

Major Gen. Fox : That's not necessarily from our reserve service. That's people wanting to re-engage and rejoin the Australian Defence Force. That brings that target up more, then—to around 90 per cent—in terms of delivering capability. I'm sorry, I didn't answer your question: where are the areas that we're concerned about?

Ms SWANSON: The risk.

Major Gen. Fox : They are the same areas that all of Australia is concerned about. In terms of the skills, the science, technology, engineering and maths related skills that all of Australia would like are absolutely those that the Australian Defence Force want. Our market competition is predominantly in that field. We would like more women to join the Australian Defence Force, and we have specific measures around joining to mentor and support young women, and we are recruiting for that. Those numbers are down on where we would like them to be. Around 19.7 per cent of personnel in the Australian Defence Force at the moment are women. Navy and Air Force are up at the almost 25 per cent—Air Force are at 25 per cent. Army, with greater numbers of women—in terms of per head, relative to the size of the ADF—are sitting at over 15 per cent.

Ms SWANSON: In terms of the SERCATs being between 6 and 5, I am interested in this in relation to women and, generally, to families as well, because circumstances change. How are we finding that flexibility? I'll give you an example. A young fellow has married and has a family, and there's an illness. How easy is it for that fellow to transfer from a 6 to a 5 to try to perhaps get some flexibility if there's a problem—for example, if a child is ill or is diagnosed with leukaemia?

I'm interested in these real-life examples, because this relates to retention. Instead of losing a very well-trained person because the logistics of life just become far too hard and complicated, so they elect to leave, I'm interested in a more agile model, I suppose. So what are we doing in relation to that? Everyone says, 'Oh, I know people in the forces,' but in my current role I've spent the last five years talking to a lot of people. Of course, you say: 'How are the kids? How's life?' Of course, we're all humans at the end of the day, and I think this is the pointy end of how we keep well-trained people. But I know that operationally you've got to be able to stand up people as well.

Major Gen. Fox : Going firstly to your retention point, we can't grow purely by bringing people in.

Ms SWANSON: Exactly.

Major Gen. Fox : We have to retain people as well. So we have a number of retention strategies available to us to use. The flexibility of service is one of those strategies. Where it's about competition in the market, we are able to have deliberately differentiated packages to secure more remuneration for some of our key trades. The submariner trade at the moment is one of those areas where we know we're growing and we have a deliberately differentiated package for our submariners at the moment. That's a combination of remuneration, professional development and different career management and posting options to support the growth of that trade. So it's not just remuneration; it's the package. There are a couple of examples.

Other changes to support retention include access to long service leave for military people. We used to have a requirement that, when accessing your long service leave, you had to take a substantial number of days, so you might have had to use it up. I'm just giving this as a hypothetical.

Ms SWANSON: That's okay.

Major Gen. Fox : My teams that are sitting back listening are probably about to say, 'What's she going to say?'

Ms SWANSON: Yes, they'll be screaming telepathically at you.

Major Gen. Fox : Absolutely. But that's now been reduced, so you can take seven days of long service leave when you hit various points of your career. In the middle career section, if you've used up your annual leave requirements, you can take a period of long service leave of just seven days rather than not having an opportunity to use that leave. We have other packages that support people through different gates in their careers. We can fly parents in to support families in times of need as well.

Going back to your point, if there's a serious illness in someone's family, there's leave available to support them—carers leave in the first instance. There's flexible work—working from home or working remotely—that we use to support our people. If you're in an operational unit—on a ship, for example—it won't necessarily be possible to achieve that. So we have the ability to use our social workers to assess family circumstances and arrange compassionate postings out of the operational areas and into perhaps more office based—or shore based in Navy language—areas. That provides more flexibility to provide family support.

So we work really hard, as you said, to retain people, and it's a communication between the individual and the member. Some people might choose to go and do reserve service, because there's not that permanent commitment where they might be called to go away. We have that. We are optimising the total workforce spectrum to make the movement between areas quicker and smoother. At the moment, it still does take some time.

Ms SWANSON: A bit clunky.

Major Gen. Fox : Depending on how your personal circumstances are, if you're coming from the reserve service, you might need an extra medical appointment, and that takes time to get through at the moment. That's an example of where some of that clunkiness is. But we can go from historically having had it take three months to actually come in and do reserve service—I'm looking at Mr Connelly—to, in other circumstances, having it take three weeks.

CHAIR: You can't have him!

Major Gen. Fox : It can't come in shorter. So we're trying to absolutely optimise that, because we know it's key to retaining our great people. The combination of retention initiatives and modernising our employment offer, such as by increasing carers leave and shortening the minimum amount of long service leave that you need to take, all supports members in leveraging the conditions of service that we have available for them so they can serve flexibly.

Ms SWANSON: I really want to talk about external contractors, in consideration in detail. It seems to me we have a lot of external contractors. I've had, again, casual and anecdotal evidence of areas like CASG being hollowed out and honeycombed out, a heck of a lot of external contractors now coming in and a real loss of corporate knowledge in that area. These are conversations that people have, and I'm a great believer in, 'If people are talking about this, then maybe we do have something that we need to look at.'

Major Gen. Fox : We look at external contractors as part of the broader support for our organisation as well. We have outsourced service providers where there's been a business decision taken to deliver that service through a contract, and the dep sec of Estate and Infrastructure has one of the largest outsourced service providers doing all our base infrastructure support.

Ms SWANSON: I totally get that. That makes commercial sense. I've got no argument with that. But capability and sustainment—

Major Gen. Fox : We have other aspects of our organisation that might be surging really hard, and we've got a number of our people deployed and trained to deploy, so we might need to leverage an external workforce to help us deliver capability. That's your point about CASG. I'll hand over to Steve to talk about that.

Mr Groves : Thank you for your question. The external workforce is very important to, as Major General Fox was talking about, the overall workforce model. In regard to specialist skills that we tend to bring in: we conduct a survey twice a year. We were being asked questions, and a lot of organisations probably struggled to work out how many contractors they had. So we looked at our overall external workforce, focusing more around sustainment type activities and the general external workforce. For instance, we don't try and estimate the number of people we have building stuff for us, because from an expenditure perspective we're buying the item that they're building.

Ms SWANSON: Yes; that makes sense.

Mr Groves : So we categorise our external workforce. There's a lot of discussion around labour hire. We don't really track that. We track our external workforce in three categories: consultants, contractors and what we call outsourced service providers. Outsourced service providers are probably the biggest component. For instance, to put some numbers on the table: in our last census that we did, in March this year, we had 32,487 external workforce FTE equivalent working within Defence identified and estimated through the census.

Major Gen. Fox : That would be our garrison medical health arrangements, our base support arrangements and our recruiting partner—that's currently ManpowerGroup. So they're examples of what those outsourced service providers are.

Mr Groves : Seventy-eight per cent, or 25,000, of that number are outsourced service providers. They're the big companies that we were just talking about—the broad spectrums who look after the base or companies who are doing submarine maintenance and those big things where we've made a conscious decision, as an organisation, to outsource that function. Just so we've got a better understanding of what that total workforce is, we do the census—it was twice a year, but we're going to move to an annual survey—to work out how big that workforce is. We've done four of those censuses now; the March one was the most recent.

At the other end of the spectrum we have consultants. In our last survey 314 FTE equivalent consultants were estimated through the survey. They're the more traditional definition of what a consultant is. They're coming in, applying expertise, tending to give us a report at the end and acting under their own direction generally; we're not guiding it. So they're a fairly small component of all that.

Then, in the middle, we have what we class as the contractors. There were 6,810 of those at the last census. The biggest component of that—not in all cases—tend to be in ICT; project management, which goes to your CASG example; and those specialist skills. Some of those contractors will come in for short stints to cover off gaps or work on particular activities. Contractors tend to be more under the general direction of the organisation. They'll be working under a public servant or an ADF member who is providing them that sort of direction. But some of them, especially those with specialist skills and those that are working on specialist projects, especially in CASG, will probably be there for a while, because the nature of the projects is that they go over many years.

I think the contractor workforce does give us both that flexibility when we want it and the access in the marketplace to those technical resources that we need. They tend to be the more technical type activities. We have a number of ICT contractors working in the organisation. Likewise, we also have large functions like, for instance, our normal ICT help desk. We've categorised those providers as an outsourced service provider; we've made a conscious decision that we want that whole function done through an outsourced service provider, and we wouldn't count those as contractors. Likewise, there are elements of that workforce in the CASG workforce around both outsourced service providers and contractors.

Ms SWANSON: What's the attrition rate in CASG? Is it a high-turnover workforce? Are people rolling through CASG? Have you done some analysis of this part of your organisation? I'm interested in that. If you don't have that information today, feel free to provide it. But I'm just really trying to get to the nub of the issue. Has there been almost a generational change with CASG, where we've lost some people who may have been there for a long, extended period of time, where potentially they have been replaced with contractors and consultants? I guess I'm really looking for more of a profile of, generationally, what's going on with CASG and how we see that impacting capability and sustainment, just taking a step back and saying, 'Hang on, what's actually really happened here?' I absolutely get what you're telling me about the numbers. I understand bringing in experts to manage certain projects like fast jets and things. I totally understand that. But, from a broader perspective, I'm interested in this whole picture. Are we building capability again within the military, or is there more of a trend to outsourcing? Do you see where I'm going with this? I'm just really trying to take a responsible position so that, in 50 years time, people say: 'Wow, in that 20-year time, look what happened. How did they let that happen?' I want to know that we're onto this.

Major Gen. Fox : In terms of CASG's profile, I will take that on notice. In terms of professionalisation of the workforce to deliver capability, we do have, for the APS, job families engaged in that capability life cycle and for our military as well. We do have professionalisation programs that give qualifications to be employed in that life cycle. And then, in the military sense, we absolutely career manage through specific pathways to have experience and qualifications to be able to operate in the capability lifecycle, of which CASG is one delivery agency. We have CIOG as another delivery agency, and estate infrastructure as well. I will get that CASG profile for you.

Ms SWANSON: Thank you. I hope you see where I'm going at this. I just want to know that someone's really thinking this through—and I'm sure you are; that's not meant to be derogatory at all. But, as government, we are responsible for this sort of longer term thinking.

Major Gen. Stuart : I might be able to help there with regard to CASG. The report of the first principles review, conducted by Mr David Peever in 2015, made a number of recommendations, which have been implemented. One of them was, to make best use of our uniformed and professionalised Public Service numbers, to have them in jobs that couldn't be done by non-Commonwealth employees—in contract, project and program management on behalf of the Commonwealth—and to have transactional and project and program management jobs done by contractors, where we pay for the force. That explains, I think, some of the shift in the demographic that you are referring to in the CASG workforce away from people who have traditionally done a lot of transactional work in fleet management, procurement of commodities and those kinds of things. That has now matured to the point where some systems program officers or programs have above-the-line contractors who are performing those roles, but they work to Commonwealth managers and supervisors, whether they're APS or military. So there has definitely been a shift in the demographic of the capability acquisition and sustainment group as a direct result of implementing the First principles review.

Ms SWANSON: Thanks.

Major Gen. Fox : A question earlier went to the family support program. I've got a minute explanation.

CHAIR: Go for it.

Major Gen. Fox : Regarding family support programs, there are a couple of things that the Defence Community Organisation, which is about to change its name to the Defence Member and Family Support branch, offers, and it offers them to support the mobility and absence of ADF members. It provides critical incident support and support to commanders in and around people moving for compassionate reasons, and also some transition support. To give you an example of what this particular organisation supports, just in this financial year we've had over 23,000 calls into and out of our defence member and family helpline, which is an intake line to access some specific support or to receive advice on what support is available in different locations. In supporting our defence families, we've also had over 23,000 emails into and out of this small branch. We operate 25 on-base community centres and 11 off-base community centres where families can gather to network and support one another, in terms of meeting in their local area. We run welcome events, when COVID allows, in the areas at the start of each year for people who are coming into areas for posting. That's an opportunity for the local community to showcase what's available in the local community, as military members might post in as well. We partner with a contractor to run 16 long daycare centres to support our families, and we have 256 school transition mentors whom we fund in different schools where there are high proportions of school-age children to support schools so that the community understands what service in the military is, how it might impact schoolkids and what educational support might be available to help schoolkids if there's difficulty because of postings. They are just some of the big programs that we run to support families so they can support their member to undertake military service.

Mr CONNELLY: In another forum I've already congratulated Defence on their magnificent work around the workforce strategy—in particular, the Reserve component. I know I've mentioned this to you, Major General Fox, but I will just mention it for the others. I spent a little under 10 years full-time in they Army and then a little over a decade in the Reserve. For that 10 years, I did get in and out over a period of 14 years. The first couple of times that I got in or out—for work purposes and for a bit of time to commit to family—it was incredibly time consuming. It took months. The paperwork had to bounce back and forth to and from Canberra. It was very discouraging for people getting back in. Then, the last time I transferred, I think it took two weeks and I was back in the green. If we multiply that across all three services every year, it's so good to be able to retain the skills and capabilities of all those reservists. So, again, in this forum I say: well done on that front.

I was also very pleased to hear what you mentioned, Major General—and I hadn't realised this—about flying parents to be with families when they're in need. I know that, when my wife and I had our first child in Townsville, I wasn't there. I got back from operations after she was born, so I wasn't there. We had no family, because my wife's family were in Perth, and it was very tough and probably traumatic, because all of those factors are not good for anybody's mental health. So I'm very pleased that that sort of consideration is being given, because, frankly, it'll save money by promoting the mental wellness of families and retention, probably for very little expense, really. So that's great.

I do have a concern, though. I would be very interested in whether this is being addressed yet or not. It's great, Major General Stuart, that you're here as well, because I think it probably goes to land capability as well as the actual people capability. In our reserve force at the moment, we're still trying to achieve rank and trade skill sets that line up against the full-time Army. I think that makes sense if you're talking about infantry, because it's a basic skill set and it's fundamental to what we have to do. I don't want to pick on artillery men and women, but I will: at least when I was serving—I'm not sure if this has changed—the artillery men and women at Irwin Barracks in Karrakatta were training on mortars, and they weren't even the same mortars that our infantry in the full-time Army were using. Of course, the artillery's main armament is the M777 howitzer, so these guys and girls were not being trained on the in-service equipment, so the ability to interoperate with the full-time force was either simply not there or incredibly unaligned. I couldn't imagine a case where an artillery group would be added into a task force to fire mortars that are not integrated with full-time Army. That seems incredibly wasteful. That is one example.

The other point I'll make is that, if my reading of the annual report is correct, there are 30,000 full time Army across SERCAT 6 and 7, and there were about 15,700 Army reservists in the last year, providing some three-quarters of a million days of service. So the Army Reserve is half of the full-time Army, and it seems like an incredible waste of opportunity if we're not moving very quickly towards better aligning what the reservists train to do with our operational requirements now or into the future.

I've gone on for a bit, but there's a final point I'll make about training and capabilities around HADR, COVID-19 Assist and Bushfire Assist. I think that in both cases the Australian population welcomed boots hitting the ground and having the massive capability at the turn of a tap. I'm nervous, though, that, if we train specifically for disaster relief then we dilute our training for warfighting. But, frankly, I think that the government and Australians do want to see Defence assets and people when these emergencies occur. So, yes, we can use reserves for some of those tasks. I'm not sure if consideration is being given to hiving off sections and having them trained up and equipped for disaster relief. That's the second part of the question, but the much more important one to me is: how are we getting bang for buck from reservists? If there is an unexpected escalation or a conflict in the near term, it would be better if we could better utilise our reservists.

CHAIR: Thank you for that, the world's longest question.

Major Gen. Fox : I'll just answer broadly, and then I'll hand over to General Stuart for specific Army capability points. One of the points I need to make is that Navy and Air Force are structured very differently in their reserve arrangements. They have a very small number of what I would describe as ab initio reserve recruits coming into the organisation.

Ms SWANSON: Is ab initio when they've got no experience?

Major Gen. Fox : They've got no experience—they're coming in fresh and we train them inside the military. Predominantly, the reservists in the Air Force and Navy are those who have had permanent service and then transitioned into another service category to deliver reserve service. The Army has the largest number of intakes in terms of reservists required to deliver specific capabilities. I will defer to General Stuart, but the Army is in the process of learning the lessons of the past in relation to that reserve capability, and capitalising some of the areas with new equipment.

Major Gen. Stuart : It's a great question, and I think you've highlighted one of the key challenges that we've faced in the past. We refer to the Army's rolling 10-year base as the 'objective force'. This is really the Chief of Army's plan to take government's significant investment and transform it into capability. One of the key design principles for the objective force is using the total workforce system General Fox has identified. We look at it less as full-time and reserve—we have around 45,000 people, and we are looking to harness the potential of that entire workforce along with our APS, contracted and industry teammates. We are looking at the whole ecosystem to see how we take that investment and turn it into the best capability for Australia.

What does that mean in a practical sense? It gets to the heart of reducing barriers to entry, and of standardising and modernising the way we train so that we have common entry standards. We train people in the same types of skills, and then we make it much easier for them to transition between more full-time or more part-time work over a career. That goes to the point that Ms Swanson was making earlier about flexibility for families, which is a key aspect of the attraction and retention of women in the ADF, particularly in the Army.

There are 11 work packages in the objective force. Every single one of them has the total workforce system at its heart. As an example, later this year, in August or October, we will re-raise the 10th Light Horse Regiment in Perth.

Ms SWANSON: I thought that's what you said—that's extraordinary.

Mr SNOWDON: Do you have riders for them?

Ms SWANSON: I've got a daughter who wants to join.

Mr CONNELLY: They won't be on horses though.

Ms SWANSON: Oh, bugger. She's a world champion equestrian.

Major Gen. Stuart : We'd be very happy to—

Mr CONNELLY: Recruit her, yes—sign her up anyway.

Major Gen. Stuart : That's a cavalry regiment. It's been at a squadron size for a while. We're going to re-raise it, and it will have similar equipment capabilities and training. For example, it will have Bushmasters, Hawkeis and, importantly, the simulators for the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle. That aligns training under the future ready training system, and it ensures that we can best leverage the total workforce system. In parts of the future Army you'll see light long-range fires—you mentioned artillery before. We are starting to build a much greater balance of full- and part-time workers across all of our units. There will still be those that are predominantly full-time and less part-time, but every single unit has a balance, and that balance will level out over time. The only way we will be able to turn that investment into capability with all of the new capabilities that are coming into service is to leverage the total workforce system. So we're completely changing our training system, removing barriers to entry, ensuring there's much more flexibility between full- and part-time service, retaining people with those skills and then making sure that they've got the training they need on a sliding scale. They've got the competency, it's just the currency that we then need to pick up in terms of employing those who've been part-time—if that answers your question.

Mr CONNELLY: It does and I'm very pleased. I've heard bits and pieces about what's happening at Karrakatta with the 10th Light Horse and I think 16th Battalion is going to be full-time now. A former classmate of mine is the CEO at the moment.

Major Gen. Stuart : Yes, 13th Brigade is the focus of our regeneration of that part of our Army, so it's not just the 10th Light Horse Battalion. It's the headquarters of that brigade and, importantly, its integration into the Defence enterprise, the joint logistics unit, the estate and infrastructure group. Obviously, Navy has a very significant presence there and they work very, very well together having that much better relationship to leverage what's there. The 16th Battalion, or the Royal Western Australian Regiment, will have a pre-landing force component, similar to what you'll find in the 2nd Battalion, in the 3rd Brigade and in the 5th Battalion in Darwin, at different scale but with the same skills and the ability to scale. There's a whole range of other examples we would be happy to furnish you with, not just in 13th Brigade but across Army.

Mr CONNELLY: That would be great. I think the brief that we've had twice now about the service categories is great, but in 12 months there's been such a change in capability across our reserve force and the integration with the skill sets for the full-time force. That is such a good news story, and it would be great to take you up on that offer to brief us on those advances. There may even be an opportunity to tell others about that because this is a fantastic leap forward in what's being done, so I commend it.

CHAIR: Do you have any other questions.

Mr CONNELLY: Yes, but I'll let someone else have a crack first.

CHAIR: Please keep going.

Mr CONNELLY: Alright, thanks. This will be a much shorter question. Rear Admiral, I was pleased to see that in the force structure plan there's mention of an additional dry dock because obviously we have the Captain Cook—

CHAIR: Can we come back to estate in a moment?

Mr CONNELLY: Yes, happy to.

CHAIR: Let's finish questions on the workforce.

Mr SNOWDON: I have a couple of questions. I think this month or sometime soon is the 40th anniversary of the RAAF Base Hughes.

Major Gen. Stuart : That's correct.

Mr SNOWDON: I hope there's a freedom of the city event in Darwin et cetera. I'm interested in Indigenous participation and engagement generally, but specifically in the remote force surveillance units, and then looking at the Defence Force Indigenous development recruitment program and the articulation of those programs into full-time service, and male and female distribution.

Major Gen. Fox : I'll talk to Indigenous at a higher level and then I'll let Simon go to the RFSU approach. In our public service workforce we currently have a 2.2 per cent participation rate. Mr Grzeskowiak is one of our Indigenous champions in that space and can talk about some fantastic procurement successes in relation to our policies around Indigenous procurement. In the Australian Defence Force our Indigenous participation rate is currently sitting at 3.3 per cent in our permanent workforce at this point in time. We have pathway programs into the Australian Defence Force. You mentioned about the pre-recruitment and the Indigenous development programs. They do offer pathways into Defence. However, we see them as a great community development programs. The success of the program isn't so much joining the Australian Defence Force; it's what the individuals gain from the programs in education, finance, health, fitness and that whole-of-person experience in those programs. Some actually then do choose to come and join the Australian Defence Force, which is fantastic.

We have mentoring programs for our Indigenous people in Defence. We have Indigenous elders who not only guide us on how we celebrate our Indigenous heritage but also how we should work to retain our Indigenous people. It might be recruit to location for a period of time and then do some different postings when there's better preparation from being in the military for a period. We are very conscious of what our fantastic Indigenous heritage gives us and then how we can benefit with that. The RFSUs offer fantastic employment, and we've really leveraged those capabilities to increase participation. I'll go to General Stuart now in relation to the RFSUs.

Major Gen. Stuart : I will take on notice the exact numbers that we have but you are well familiar with the work in those units. Indigenous representation in the Army, full-time, SERCAT 6 and 7, is 3.4 per cent, which translates to just over a thousand people. In the part-time, it's about 3.9 per cent, which equates to a little over 600 people. As you are also aware, Mr Snowdon, the RFSU original force surveillance units have a category of enlistment called the regional force surveillance list, which effectively gets back to my earlier point about reducing barriers to entry and being able to better access the talent that exists amongst our Indigenous—

Mr SNOWDON: I understand it but could you, for the purpose of the committee, just explain what that means—the relaxation of entry requirements.

Major Gen. Stuart : It's a recognition that we need to have a supply-side-focused recruiting approach. So rather than what our requirements are and strictly being rigid about them, saying: what can the market provide? How are we better providing access for Australians that want to serve across a range of different ethnicities, backgrounds, socioeconomic status, gender, you name it? So how do we better access the capacity of all Australians who want to serve and make it easier for them to come in? So it's looking at how do we tailor for various groups in society and for the regional force surveillance units, where we rely on our day-to-day operational basis on our members of our Indigenous communities, mainly across the Top End of Australia but in other parts as well. It is really important that we tailor an offering that enables us to leverage their service and understand the demography of their society, which is not the same for everybody.

Mr SNOWDON: Help me if I'm wrong but I understand that, for example, if someone has a minor misdemeanour, which might otherwise prevent them from getting access to full-time service, that can be relaxed for the purpose of individual assessment?

Major Gen. Fox : That's correct. Yes.

Mr SNOWDON: So that makes it a lot easier in a sense. But you're still getting the discipline of the Defence Force and all the things that go with it.

Major Gen. Stuart : There's a great engagement with the community. They help us to provide the support that those young people need in order to be successful. Also, there is a social contract, if you like, between the Army and those communities to ensure that, regardless of the background and the path through life that a young person may have had, they have the best opportunity by Army and communities working together to ensure their future.

Major Gen. Fox : Just to give you an indication of working with our Indigenous community, of our Indigenous community enlistments into the Australian Defence Force at the moment, 23.8 per cent are women. In our APS, that's up at 80 per cent of those joining. That's as a result of great engagement and the programs in our communities coming together.

Mr SNOWDON: It's a very good news story, as Major General Fox has said, around the Indigenous procurement strategy, which you are already engaged in. Would you mind just explaining the opportunities for the purposes of this committee and for anyone who might be listening?

Mr Grzeskowiak : In Defence, we've been a key player in putting effect to the government's Indigenous procurement policy, which was created in around 2015. In fact, at the time that policy was created by PM&C, Defence people worked with PM&C to make sure that policy was going to be effectively implementable on the ground, because we were already engaging with Indigenous companies and we had some experience that was able to be put into that development. What that policy allowed us to do essentially was to apply slightly different criteria to companies that were owned by people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The government uses an organisation called Supply Nation as its validation of is that company genuinely owned by Indigenous or Torres Strait Islanders? If they are on the Supply Nation list, Supply Nation being the peak body for Indigenous business in Australia, then we can use them. It does allow us, if necessary, to sole source to those companies rather than go to normal open market tender. I would say that we are still bound by the Commonwealth procurement rules; therefore, we need to be able to demonstrate value for money in placing any contracts.

We used that sole source quite a lot in the early days, particularly as we were looking to get small and medium enterprises involved—Indigenous companies. These days we don't use it very much at all because we're tending now to either just go straight to the open market, and Indigenous companies we've worked with for several years now are winning work in their own right. Or we might pick two or three Indigenous companies and run a competition that they compete against each other, which is essentially a sort of variation on the sole source. Over time we've grown the Indigenous business sector significantly, I would say, across Australia, particularly in Defence, in the sort of construction and maintenance space. But I do have to say that now every group in Defence, whether it be Army, Navy, people, group, every group in Defence is placing contracts through their normal business with Indigenous-owned companies, and we track those records.

If you look at the record since 2015, the whole of federal government, all federal government departments, have spent around $4 billion with Indigenous companies since we started tracking it in 2015. Defence has spent about $1.9 billion of that $4 billion, so we're by far the biggest spender. In part, that's because we have a large expenditure anyway. But we've actually won five awards over that six-year period, three from Supply Nation—in 2017, 2019 and 2021. They call it 'government member of the year'. Those awards were recognising not just that we were doing high volumes of work but they were recognising the approach we were taking in reaching out to try and engage Indigenous-owned business. We also won—and we're very proud of this—two awards from the Department of Finance. Quite frankly, any award from the Department of Finance is worth celebrating. They run a series of procurement awards, which they've only done twice—2020 and 2021—and we have won both of those around our work on small- to medium-enterprise procurement across Defence. But the case studies we showcased were around Indigenous procurement, small to medium enterprise. Again, those awards clearly recognise the approach we take, not just the volume of business we do.

Mr SNOWDON: Thank you. I've got one other subject to ask about, which is topical and controversial—all of the issues around transition. I'm really interested to know how the transition space is changing; what we're doing to realise that the mental health of serving men and women seems to be a lot better when they're in uniform than it is when they're out of uniform; the issues of suicide in Defence and suicide of ex-serving members; and how we're going to equip people in transition, working with Veterans' Affairs, to get this right.

Major Gen. Fox : The transition story is one of modernisation as well. Pre 2017, it would be true to say that it was more an administrative process. Post 2017, it is now what we would term 'needs based'. That's been a modernisation journey. Five and a half thousand to 6,000 people leave Defence each year. As the size of the Defence Force grows, that is likely to grow.

Mr SNOWDON: The average length of service in Defence is 7½ or eight years?

Major Gen. Fox : Around eight years. It differs by service and trade, but it is around eight years.

Mr SNOWDON: But, roughly speaking, we're talking about people in their mid to late 20s, by and large, I think.

Major Gen. Fox : Yes. Around 30 years on transition from the military. Fifty-five per cent of our workforce transition voluntarily; around 20 per cent is medical; and the remainder is a combination of people who are leaving from coming in on continuous full-time service, so doing permanent service from the reserves, or age retirement, or what we would term an involuntary or administrative separation, because there's not necessarily a good fit with the military. Based on the work of the Institute of Health and Welfare, which provides the reports that you indicate, we have learnt of the very tragic rate of suicide, either in our military or in the veteran community. The age bracket is 17 to 30. It is from the medical/involuntary number that we know that men in particular are most at risk in leaving Defence.

In this in modernisation journey of transition, we have developed two tailored programs that weren't in existence pre 2017. The first one is targeted at involuntary youth, up to age 30, where we have a personalised career employment program. It's needs based and we can wrap particular activities around it. When I say 'needs based', pre even the last two years, you couldn't really access different services if you hadn't done 10 years worth of military service. That's really counterintuitive when the most at-risk cohort have really not done 10 years service; they're in the first four years, in effect. We've adjusted that to needs based now. It's no longer time based. People can access a suite of transition programs now. We've partnered with a professional employment service provider that has access to multiple courses, but we've put in place a transition coach. The transition coach sits with the members now, in whatever program or pathway you come into transition on, and works through what it is you might do when you leave Defence. It's very one on one. We work through your skills profile, what jobs you might do. We know that some people may not work when they leave Defence, but it's also about engagement. They might want to study or they might want to volunteer, and we work with them around those skills to get them to the point where they are able to undertake that work. Or the employment provider has worked with the individuals around their resume, their job interviews and then access to different employment markets to help secure employment. There is a tailored pathway program for the 17- to 30-year-olds, PCEP. We have three months of that dedicated approach to training with them to help them prepare to leave Defence.

The second tailored program, Transition for Employment, is around some of the more complex medical and psychosocial circumstances that our individuals face. Again, it's a really tailored program where people can take up to two years in this program to help prepare them to leave Defence. We're getting really good results in relation to the PCEP and T4E. The PCEP program only started in January 2019. People get individual coaching sessions, resume preparation, personal branding, marketing, coaching for interviews and access to resources. We've got around 788 people in that program now, and 375 participants have either commenced employment or are in meaningful engagement in what they want to do.

Whilst people may have left Defence, we have now enabled them to reach back into Defence for up to two years to access their coach. So it's a Plan B, 'I need to do something different; it hasn't worked out.' It's access to more services to help them to leave Defence—in fact, that's in all programs. It's about, 'What is your need?'

We've now engaged families in this entire process, too. Prior to COVD, we had 30 transition seminars right around the country. It was about families and members coming in. It's no longer sitting in a lecture theatre being talked at. It's a seminar where we invite people from around the local area to come in and offer their services. The big ESOs come in to provide support around what's available through the ESO network, and the regional Department of Veterans' Affairs comes in. Since 2017, we have been working much more closely than we have ever done before with the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The Productivity Commission report from 2018-19 directed Defence to stand up what is called the Joint Transition Authority. That has recently stood up and is in an implementation stage. The Joint Transition Authority is the integrator across the transition system. It's not delivering services; it's still working through that. But it's taking the same view that the member and their family have as they navigate the transition system. When I say the transition system, it's what the service—Army, Navy, Air Force—is helping with, what broader strategic program the transition coach is helping with, what the DVA services are that we link into and the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation. In due course, we will link with the ex-service organisation community.

We do this in a very deliberate way. It's about integrating and synchronising the transition ecosystem, because there is so much support on offer, and that's actually part of the problem: it's confusing. So we're trying to remove those friction points. We have had some really great, small wins, but they will build and build. One of them, for example, was through looking at the system and not a silo of support. We identified things coming left of any decision to transition medically, where people engage in what we call a medical employment classification review board, which just assesses your injuries perhaps, or your health and your ability to undertake service in the trade that you're in. You might then trade transfer; there's always that option. Some people don't want to do that, so they end up in a medical transition. We're signing some particular paperwork now that, if you are going to have a superannuation pension component because of medical transition, enables com super corporation to pay the fortnight after you leave Defence. So just by looking at things differently, which is what the Joint Transition Authority is doing, we're getting small wins that will build over time.

So they are two programs. DVA and CSC are deeply engaged with the stand up of the Joint Transition Authority. We have embedded people from DVA. The veteran support officers from DVA are on bases now. We leverage that relationship for people to be decision ready to leave Defence. I now hold a technical authority where, if I see something is not quite right, I can direct a hold-in-abeyance of people leaving Defence to make sure we put the right wraps around people to leave, whether that be more proactive transition services or whether we reach into prioritising some particular support from DVA; we'll do that.

Mr SNOWDON: That sounds really encouraging, but I need to explore this a little bit. How would you manage a reservist on full-time service who doesn't live in a major capital city—they live in the Wimmera. If that person has an incapacity of some description—as a result of an injury or a mental health issue—what is the handover to Veterans' Affairs and how do we make sure they get continuity of care from the handover point into the future?

Major Gen. Fox : Our rehabilitation providers inside Defence work closely with the DVA triage and connect team to do handovers. Depending on the complexity of the case, it could be a very hot handover. What we are also doing—it is not my area of responsibility but I'm integrated into it—is making much more detailed notes for an individual to take to their civilian doctor when they leave. We support people getting their Medicare card; surprisingly, some people do not have them. Also, we fund, for five years after leaving Defence, an annual GP health assessment to help people with continuity with their GP. Medical documents are now digitised, so you are not taking a huge file to the doctor if you have been in for a long period of time. We are becoming much more integrated in that way.

Not everyone who leaves Defence is a DVA client. Having said that, DVA knows everyone who leaves Defence now because we are much more integrated in the passage of information.

Mr SNOWDON: Do they get a DVA number when they walk through the gate as recruits at Wagga?

Major Gen. Fox : DVA knows who they are, and we have access to the MyService account. People already have an account but, yes, DVA knows who they are.

Mr SNOWDON: You've got electronic health records at Defence.

Major Gen. Fox : Yes, we do.

Mr SNOWDON: Can they talk to My Health?

Major Gen. Fox : That's a technical question. I'll take that on notice. The Defence electronic health system is due for an upgrade, and I know that that upgrade is looking at connectivity with the government health system.

CHAIR: Can I take you to page 40 of the annual report. In the first paragraph it says, 'In the 2016 Defence white paper the government directed the ADF to increase its preparedness levels by raising its overall capability and improving its sustainability on operations.' How is Defence doing that?

Major Gen. Stuart : I might have a go at that.

CHAIR: I'm hoping this is front and centre of your mind.

Major Gen. Stuart : It absolutely is. The two documents on the table there—the Defence strategic update and the force structure plan—are certainly at the heart of the government's direction and certainly at the heart of Defence's efforts. In terms of capability and the kinds of capability—both strengthening what we currently have and introducing new capabilities across the five domains—the investment in the force structure plan is being delivered in accordance with the integrated investment plan. There is a pretty steady drumbeat of decisions coming to government on those things.

CHAIR: I understood this to be more personnel related than kit related.

Major Gen. Stuart : Absolutely. When I talk about capability, I'm talking about all of the fundamental inputs. Any submission that comes up—let's say for an air warfare destroyer, or any capability—has a range of requirements. So it's not just the piece of equipment. It's the people. It's how they're trained. It's all of the pers. support that they get. It is the development of concepts of operation and how they're employed. It's how they integrate digitally. It's the facilities and infrastructure, the training areas, the secure facilities and the like. So, when we talk about capability, you're exactly right: most of the attention is naturally drawn to the equipment. But, actually, when we talk about capability, we're talking about something that can be fielded and sustained on operations to create the effects that government requires.

Ms SWANSON: Can I just follow on really quickly?

CHAIR: Hang on. I want to get a line of questioning out here. We talked about this the other day. When the ADF is saying to government, 'In order for us to prosecute the white paper, this is the number of personnel that we need,' how many personnel is it saying it needs?

Major Gen. Fox : In the force structure cycle that we're in at the moment—we look at the entirety of the force structure and capability beyond the forward estimates, because that's where, every two years, we consider the objective force and the future force in that integrated investment program. Then there's another mode where we can look at specific issues as they arise, based on our understanding of what our threats are. And then, every four years, there's a deliberate look at our force structure. So we're always looking at our force structure and capabilities. That includes exactly what General Stuart said. It includes workforce. In the Force Structure Plan from the Defence Strategic Update, we were given an additional 800—well, just over 800—over time for our military workforce and just over 200 for our Public Service workforce. In that Force Structure Plan, we did foreshadow some growth that would be required, but government directed us to come back at the end of this year with a more detailed plan of what will be required beyond the forward estimates. So we're in the process now of refining the planning inside Defence to actually come back to government no later than the end of this year with what the additional numbers will be.

Ms SWANSON: I'm racking my brain for the figures now and I just can't think of them, but I remember looking at this. We were almost halfway through that 10-year window, and we were nowhere near halfway to where we needed to be in terms of having the number of people—I remember that—by magnitudes of people. I just wanted to make that comment, and maybe you can come back to me on that. But, just to use an absolute example, how is it that we've got a frigate that we couldn't get people on? How is that the case?

Major Gen. Fox : I did mention previously that Navy had a retention problem. That meant that there were some middle ranks that weren't available. Our workforce is at times very actively targeted because of the experience that we've grown through our system. And, as I mentioned just before, Navy have grown quite substantially now, and their separation behaviour rate is just over six per cent, down from nine—large numbers. And that's only happened in the last two-plus or so years. So it's quite a junior workforce that's coming through in large numbers with Navy, and that has enabled some of what the hollowness was to be remediated, because we've put in some very deliberate retention measures for that Navy workforce—the leading seamen, the chief petty officers and the petty officers—that makes up the operating capability of the ship.

HMAS Perth is what you're referring to. That's now back in the water as a result of very deliberate efforts from Navy to retain the workforce but also to increase some of those recruiting measures. They've grown quite substantially as a consequence.

Rear Adm. Spedding : In 2018 we had under 14,000 people. We now have over 15½ thousand.

CHAIR: I do want to take you to a specific issue in relation to retention, and then, finally, I'm going to come to Admiral Spedding—

Rear Adm. Spedding : I can't wait, Chair!

CHAIR: just to relive old memories. I had the privilege of spending a few days on one of our Collins class last year, and it was made known to me by many different ranks that they felt significantly overworked. I know we all think we're overworked; I've never met anybody who feels like they're underworked! But it was a definite—I won't overplay it and say 'cry for help', but certainly concerns were raised with me about the high tempo of their workload, at all ranks, and about things like: 'If we're having trouble manning six, how are we going to man 12?' particularly at the upper ranks. What do you say about that? Can I say one other thing: I'm not suggesting that there is any type of fraud here, but there were express concerns raised with me about inaccurate numbers of staffing levels. Navy might need to have X number of submariners on their books to be able to keep six boats or four boats in the water—whatever the capability is at the time. Concerns were raised with me about the number of submariners who are qualified submariners but who aren't actually working as submariners. Navy can point to the numbers and say: 'Here we are, Mr Politician; it's all good; you don't have to worry because we've got X number of submariners; that means we can have X number of boats in the water; there's no problem,' but then these sailors and officers were saying: 'Well, of these numbers, X per cent are actually not working as submariners.'

Major Gen. Fox : I'll answer this in two parts and then go to my Navy colleague. When we look at the Integrated Investment Program and we look at when capabilities are going to be delivered, we then bring that into very deliberate planning around the training cycle. It's quite a fine balance. We're bringing people in for our capabilities, who are coming in new, and sometimes schedules might slip, so we've got to balance when the workforce arrives with the capabilities. Conversely, if you were to go to an Army base, some soldiers might say to you that they're bored, because it's a different environment that they're employed in; they want to go on more operations. So we have to balance the workforce with when the capability is coming in the planning cycle for the training to occur.

The Navy has a deliberately differentiated package around submariners. Some of the submariners said that they were spending too much time on a boat and wanted an opportunity for other experiences, so as to grow, and then to come back to the boat. So part of that was some more tailored career management, to have employment outside of the submarine pathway to gain different military experience, and then to come back into the submarine pathway. That was built in, in a career management sense, for Navy in that approach. Navy balance the overall workforce with their capability. We move people all the time to fill what is the fleet program of ships and boats at sea, based on the requirements for what we're directed to do in terms of operations.

Workforces in defence are surging all the time, in terms of training to prepare for an operation and then on the operation. We have respite policies for our operations, to manage certain tempos. We're currently reviewing those respite policies as well and working with the human performance team inside the Defence Science and Technology Organisation to actually get more science behind what a respite should necessarily be.

On Navy's increase of workforce: years and years ago—I'm talking 10 or 15 years ago—we had different programs that moved more military people to frontline roles. That was on the ships and then to either an outsourced or civilian role ashore to do that tooth-to-tail ratio. In the Navy, that created an environment where they were spending too much time at sea and the respite positions weren't necessarily available for them. Navy has actually just looked at their entire workforce and where they need to balance that ship-to-shore ratio for respite. That has been a work in progress, in particular for Navy and the submarine fleet.

The submarine fleet is being managed very closely to account for current availability and what might come in a future sense, to make sure we do have that workforce. The submarine workforce is growing. You would understand, having been on it, that it's very technical training for that particular workforce. I'll hand over to my Navy colleague now.

Rear Adm. Spedding : Thanks. The caveat is that I'm not a workforce planner and I'm not involved directly in naval workforce matters. But you'd be well aware that the Collins faced a range of challenges in terms of availability, certainly in the earlier part of the last decade. That reduced the available number of boats, which had a real impact on the training throughput of our submariner force. It was one of a number of factors contributing overall to a real drop in the submarine workforce. The workforce was based in Western Australia and was also highly attractive to industry, which at that stage was booming in Western Australia, and we lost a lot of submariners—trained people—to external recruitment agencies to work in the mines and other areas up north.

Recognising the challenges of the submarine workforce, though, we developed a plan within Navy—Plan Delphinus—which was really to grow the submarine workforce, and to do so on a sustainable basis. It was meant to significantly increase the number of submariners, and not just to provide the capability at sea. You'd be well aware now that our capability and availability is much higher and we are meeting benchmark performance standards for the class. So our at-sea requirement is higher, but we're also conscious of the need to grow those shore support positions that Major General Fox spoke about to give sailors what we call the 'sea-shore roster balance'. It gives them the chance to spend time with family and to rest and recuperate before proceeding back to sea. As the major general said, that submarine workforce is actually growing and we're on the path to grow the desired force to meet the current submarine force requirement.

The second part of your question was about how we meet the demands of the future submarine force. Again, that's very much a deliberate long-term growth strategy, acknowledging that the first submarine from the Future Submarine program will not be delivered until early next decade. But there's a very deliberate plan to grow the workforce. That's not just a step-change, it's growing in the order—and I can get the numbers for you—of 852 to over 2,000 submariners in the workforce, not only to provide the capability at sea but to round out the shore-side capability and the sea-shore roster component.

The other element in retaining and recruiting submariners is that of course the whole force is currently based in Western Australia. That was done on the introduction of the Collins class. Defence is investigating the suitability and viability of two-ocean basing for its future submarine capability. A decision has not yet been made by government on basing. We're investigating it from the perspective that we recruit most of our people from the east coast. It's known that if you're actually based proximate to where you're recruited from then that increases retention factors; it's a well-known morale factor. We're looking at the benefits that could accrue from two-ocean basing, not just from the personnel factor but that there are operational benefits as well. Those matters will be brought back before government for a decision in the future.

CHAIR: Thank you. I raised this because I think it's important that one of the benefits of ADFPP is that soldiers, sailors, airmen and officers will talk to us and raise issues of concern that they may or may not necessarily feel like they're getting through to the brass. I think it's very important that when we're aware of that information we feed it back to you.

Rear Adm. Spedding : Absolutely.

CHAIR: I think that's one of the great benefits of the program.

Major Gen. Fox : Part of designing any deliberately different package is the consultation with the workforce about what they see would benefit them to stay. That's how that submarine package with the remunerative bonus, career-management opportunities and professionalisation was developed—in consultation with the workforce.

CHAIR: I don't mean to cut you short, Major General Fox, but the deputy chair has to leave in five minutes, so I'm going to give her the opportunity to raise anything on defence estate.

Ms SWANSON: Actually, Admiral Spedding has just picked up on my question about the submarine base perhaps being on the east coast, and I would highly recommend Newcastle.

CHAIR: I was thinking Mooloolaba!

Mr SNOWDON: Eden!

Ms SWANSON: I did actually have quite a serious question about Garden Island becoming busier and busier.

Rear Adm. Spedding : Garden Island in Sydney?

Ms SWANSON: Yes, I should specify that. You're in charge of the Navy infrastructure aspect. I know there was pressure from the cruise ship industry. I'm not sure how COVID has skewed that. What are the plans and—

Mr SNOWDON: It's not to be given to cruise ships; alright?

Ms SWANSON: I know that. I'm not asking them to move from Garden Island. I'm just asking what the plans are and where we are going with that thinking, in terms of infrastructure.

Rear Adm. Spedding : Garden Island is the enduring base.

Ms SWANSON: Of course.

Rear Adm. Spedding : It's been the home of the Navy since its formation back in the days of sail. There have been numerous reviews conducted, from the sixties through the 2000s, on what viable alternatives there are to Garden Island, and the consistent theme from all those reviews has been that there's no feasible economic east coast location for the total replacement of the capabilities that are provided at Garden Island. Garden Island, with the current and planned investments by government, will remain viable as the sustainment and home port for our east coast major fleet units. There are major remediation works which are being progressed now. Mr Wallace was at the PWC. If you recall, we put through a Garden Island critical infrastructure recovery program, which is now in full stream, which is remediating much of the wharf space and building new wharves at Garden Island to provide us with increased and more flexible capacity for basing the ships that are in Sydney. There's a major redevelopment of Garden Island planned for later this decade and into the thirties, which will cover many of the above-ground facilities within Garden Island, which are also key to supporting the fleet. So, in terms of planned and current investment, Garden Island will remain a feasible facility. It does, of course, suffer from urban encroachment, so we have to change some of our practices, and we have done so, to be able to accommodate the demands and needs of the resident population nearby, but it is still a viable site for the Navy going forward. Of course, the balance of the fleet from 1987 has been split between Garden Island in Sydney and HMAS Stirling in Western Australia. With a commensurate growth in the fleet, you'll see the continual balancing of the fleet between the east and west coasts to meet not only operational needs and personnel support needs but also the physical constraints of the two locations. Does that get to the heart of your question?

Ms SWANSON: Yes, it does. I suppose I'm alluding to whether there is any thought of having to spread some of that—not the encroachment but the work—that needs to be done currently at Garden Island. As well as keeping it there, are you thinking about other east based locations as well, whether they be Nowra, Newcastle or other places? That's what I'm getting at now, because we know that there are constraints.

Rear Adm. Spedding : Fleet Base East in Sydney is a key part of what is the broader Garden Island defence precinct. The thing about Sydney base is it's not just the Garden Island precinct.

Ms SWANSON: No, I realise that.

Rear Adm. Spedding : It's a real interconnecting network across the Sydney Basin. You have other bases, including HMAS Penguin, which provides health support and other training. You have the mine clearance divers and the mine warfare forces at HMAS Waterhen. You have key training facilities provided at HMAS Watson and also the Randwick Barracks. You have the fleet headquarters in Sydney. You have the fuel installation at Chowder Bay. It's a really tightly interlocked system. If you think about moving individual elements out of Sydney, you dislocate the system and introduce inefficiencies and additional costs. At the moment, our intention is to remain based on the east coast in Sydney, but, as I said, we balance it up between the west coast and the east coast. If the government, on recommendation, were to accept an east coast submarine base, then you might look at what other capabilities it would be sensible to co-locate in that location, but that advice has not yet been provided to government.

CHAIR: Admiral Spedding, before we leave the east coast—and I'm conscious that we're running out of time, so I'll ask for a very quick response—I was speaking to a junior sailor only a couple of weeks ago who was saying that there aren't not enough accommodation units at Fleet Base East and that the Navy's paying for them to rent a unit. It's about an hour away from Fleet Base East, so they're travelling backwards and forwards. Some people might say, 'Well, that's no different to what anybody else does when they work,' but I think it's less than preferable for, in this case, a very young junior sailor, a young lady, to be living on her own in a unit away from the base. What are we doing to address those accommodation problems?

Rear Adm. Spedding : I'll answer it in part, but I'll probably pass to you, Steve. The policy across Navy is that our most junior people tend to live on board ship or on base. Then, at a certain stage of seniority, they have the option of living in accommodation ashore. In terms of living-in accommodation for Sydney, there's very little at HMAS Kuttabul, which is the base most proximate to Garden Island, and that tends to be used for short-term and transit accommodation more than anything. There is dedicated living-in accommodation, which is established and maintained by the Estate and Infrastructure Group, and there is a future program for the Sydney living-in accommodation—LIA—project. I haven't got the details of that with me. Steve, do you have them?

Mr Grzeskowiak : You're right. We currently lease some apartment blocks in Strathfield, in Sydney, and that lease will carry on for a while. We have a plan in development at the moment to build 900 units or thereabouts, depending on investment appraisal, and we're looking at whether we do that through public-private partnership or Defence, and we're looking at whether we do that at Randwick. If that's what we do, there'll be a process organised for getting people to and from there.

CHAIR: Randwick, of course, is much more proximate.

Mr Grzeskowiak : Yes, it's quite close.

CHAIR: I want to turn to the substance of our inquiry. Senator Kitching was seized of this issue, so I want to make sure we get this on the record for her. She was very much interested in an examination today of our north and north-west estate, particularly in relation to our temporary bases there, the ability to stand those up quickly and the sorts of facilities that are available in those temporary bases. Admiral Spedding, are you able to speak to that, or is that more for Mr Grzeskowiak?

Rear Adm. Spedding : Which environment are you looking at particularly? Is it maritime, air or land?

CHAIR: Land.

Rear Adm. Spedding : For land, I'd probably look towards General Stuart and then Mr Grzeskowiak.

CHAIR: Just before you do that, Mr Hill wants to add a question.

Mr HILL: I think that in the Air Force strategy there was the concept of mobile and agile basing. I was up at RAAF Tindal a couple of months ago, and I asked a few people. I got various curious looks, but I haven't actually heard any response as to what we actually mean by that. Is it a concept or is it something that's actually happening?

Mr Grzeskowiak : I might start.

Mr HILL: They were related, I thought.

Mr Grzeskowiak : Yes, I think you're right. I'll start from an estate perspective, with the caveat that I'm not an operator. If you look at the Force Structure Plan from last year, there's a line in there for northern base resilience funding, and it's in the facilities line. It's a line that goes a long way into the future. In the defence system now, we're looking at what all that means and what the current strategic circumstances mean for our northern posture and also how we're going to operate from those places. You'd be aware of the bases that we have up there: Learmonth, up near Exmouth; RAAF Base Curtin, which is what we call a bare base, up near Derby; Tindal, which is a full operational base; RAAF Base Darwin; and Scherger up in Queensland. A place like Scherger is what we call a bare base. It's not operational all the time, but it can be turned into an operational base.

The question that we're grappling with at the moment is: is the state of those facilities adequate to meet what we think future needs might be in terms of being able to launch capability? We don't know the answer to that yet, and that's being worked through. But I think we'll see a range of projects over the next few years that, from an estate perspective, will see us investing in some of those places to enhance their ability to support capability into the future. We haven't done a lot at places like Curtin and Scherger for quite a long time. They're exercised at occasionally—not that often. Within the military training regime: should we be exercising more there? Should we enhance what's available there? All those questions are being thought of, and they'll turn into training plans and projects in due course.

Mr SNOWDON: Can I pick up Cocos Islands? They're redoing the airstrip. Where are we at with that?

Mr Grzeskowiak : That's in planning phase at the moment. We have a two-phase process. We're in that gap between the first and second pass, and we're in the detailed planning of looking at what we're going to do there in terms of runway adjustments to support the P8s at full capacity.

Mr SNOWDON: What sort of time frame are you roughly looking at?

Mr Grzeskowiak : If everything runs to plan, I think we'll be looking for government to sign off plans probably in the first half of next year, and then rolling into delivery not too long after that. It's an interesting place to do significant work.

Mr SNOWDON: It is.

Mr Grzeskowiak : It's a long way away.

Mr SNOWDON: It's part of my electorate, mate—very close to my heart.

CHAIR: Mr Grzeskowiak, are you able to give us a bit of a briefing on where we're at with fuel stores, specifically in relation to Defence? I know that Navy is doing quite a large job in renewing its fuel depot facilities, particularly at Gardens Point. Where else are we doing it, and to what extent are we doing it? Because, putting aside the fuel supply issue which is problematic in itself, we've got to put it somewhere once we get it here.

Mr Grzeskowiak : There is a program in Defence running which is looking at the future of fuel in a logistics sense—how are we going to manage fuel and run fuel? It's not run from my area, so I'm not close to the detail.

CHAIR: But you'd be involved in the storing of it, presumably.

Mr Grzeskowiak : We're building facilities on defence bases. Where we have fuel holdings on defence bases, yes, we build those facilities, but, as you'd be aware from the media, there are other players. For example, the United States are looking at building fuel holdings in Darwin in the north. We've got a rolling program of upgrades to fuel facilities. Those upgrades often go with an enhancement to the capacity. We've done upgrades in recent years at RAAF Base Learmonth up at Exmouth. As part of the wharf redevelopment in Coonawarra, we're building an additional wharf which will have some additional fuel associated with it. But we're looking for some advice and guidance from the project that's running at the moment about where do we want to position ourselves in the future in a defence fuel capacity: How much fuel do we want to be self-reliant with? How much are we prepared to look to commercial sources? What's the balance in which parts of the country?

CHAIR: How do you make that decision? What advice or information is that based on? What's the right amount of fuel to hold internally within Defence? What's the right amount of fuel to hold globally as a nation for defence? How much should we be relying on corporate—

Mr Grzeskowiak : Yes. I've looked at my operator colleagues for advice on that.

Rear Adm. Spedding : I'll speak to the Defence piece to a degree. Joint Logistics Command has the lead for Defence fuel management, and they've been leading the Defence Fuel Transformation Program that Mr Grzeskowiak spoke about. As part of the defence capability assessment process, which General Fox described before, the joint experimentation program contributes to an understanding of what our fuel demands are in terms of a steady state but also surge demand, and those experimentation outputs inform Joint Logistics Command as to what the appropriate level of defence holdings of fuel is. Certainly from a naval side that experimentation has informed the work that we're doing at Garden Island in Sydney to remediate the in-ground fuel supplies and an intention to retain the Chowder Bay fuel installation rather than disposing of it, which was an earlier intention. It's also informing the amount of fuel we need to hold in Darwin—the new wharf being built at Coonawarra was mentioned, which will have 3½ megalitres of ready use fuel, which has been tailored around what an operational cycle for vessels working through that port would be. So it's experimentation against relevant scenarios which informs the services, which then places demand upon Joint Logistics Command.

CHAIR: Doesn't this come back to Mr Molan's point that he raises at just about every meeting that I've ever been at with him, and that is what are we preparing for as opposed to—if you look at our current fuel supplies in Australia it's well reported that we have somewhere around about 28 days of fuel in country, and somewhere around about 60-odd days or 67-odd days with agreements with other nations to bring fuel here. Those estimates are based on peacetime average use of fuel stocks, but if we're in a conflict, the drastic, very significant uptick in the use of fuel goes through the roof. So that 28 days of fuel currently here in Australia becomes what in a high tempo, asymmetric warfare situation?

Rear Adm. Spedding : Again, that's not my direct area. I understand though that as part of the work the Joint Logistics Command is doing around fuels they've been commissioning reports into the status of our fuel demands for contingency purposes, as well as for steady state for raise, train, sustain to stay in and peacetime operations. The broader national piece—the defence touch point—would be the mobilisation work that's being led by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force's group and their small mobilisation directorate, which is looking at what the drivers are and what the parameters are around what the defence mobilisation plan would be. That has a touch point on the broader national requirement for fuel. That's about as far as I have information at this stage that I can pass on.

CHAIR: You're very quiet, Major General Fox.

Major Gen. Fox : That part of the Defence Capability Assessment Program doesn't sit within my responsibility. If you wanted a brief on that fuel transformation piece, the officials sitting here are not the people that are actually running that particular program.

CHAIR: We might prevail upon you for that briefing, because I know that a number of my colleagues on both sides of the fence are very interested in that issue. We can spend $270 billion giving you guys all the best kit in the world but if we can't put fuel on it it's a hood ornament. Mr Connelly?

Mr CONNELLY: Thank you, Chair. Coming back to you, Rear Admiral Spedding, you got a little taste earlier, so you might have been thinking already. In the 2020 Force structure plan I was pleased to see mention of an additional dry-dock facility. Having the one Captain Cook facility at Garden Island in Sydney is a great capability but obviously then there's risk that we've only got the one. I understand it needs to have about a year's worth of maintenance in 2025.

Mr Grzeskowiak : We'll be spending a significant amount of money over the next three to five years to keep the dock in good shape.

Mr CONNELLY: Sure. It was built in 1945. It's a great feat of engineering—somewhat akin to what you were talking about, the potential for a two ocean capability for our Navy. Given the investment in the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson and its current role and potential future role, I wonder whether you think that a commensurate share or split of the dry-dock capability would be something that could be attractive as a risk mitigation, but also as an operational support benefit?

Rear Adm. Spedding : The 2020 Force structure plan, as I said, spoke about the need for an additional dry-dock facility to complement Garden Island in Sydney in support of both potential shipbuilding and sustainment requirements. So it has a dual requirement. The 2016 Defence white paper spoke about the shipbuilding program initially, followed up in 2017 by the national Naval Shipbuilding Plan, which established the two shipbuilding centres—that being Osborne in South Australia and Henderson in Western Australia. Osborne has been developed specifically for service combatants and submarine work. Under the 2017 plan the Henderson precinct was tailored towards the minor naval war vessel construction plan. The 2020 Force Structure Plan also spoke to new shipbuilding programs—and you have the printout in front of you—including joint support ships, which are larger ships which are beyond the capacity for the shipyard in South Australia. So a logical shipbuilding construction yard, if those ships were to be built in Australia, would be at Henderson.

The current Henderson facility, as you know, has grown from the Australian Marine Complex when it was established by the Commonwealth and the state in 2003. It supports a broad range of naval capabilities. It provides submarine sustainment, it provides sustainment for surface ships and it provides shipbuilding across a range of minor naval war vessel programs. For the Australian Marine Complex to take on support not just of the larger ships envisaged, like joint support ships, from a construction sense but also for sustainment of the ships that are planned—Attack class submarine sustainment and Hunter class frigate sustainment—the facilities need to be uplifted in capacity. For example, we cooperated with the Western Australian government as they did an 18-month master planning activity for the AMC. That was delivered in August last year. That flagged the need for a large vessel dry berth—that was the term they used. It might be a dock or it might be a combination of facilities which deliver that effect.

We have been working very closely with the Western Australian government. In fact, Defence provided $9 million to fund a range of studies which built upon that initial master planning work which was done by the Western Australian government—and those studies are in train. The lead package of work, which was announced just last month, was for the integrated infrastructure program, which looks at how we address all the infrastructure requirements at the AMC to meet our future needs. A key focus of that work is on this large vessel dry berth, which will satisfy the capability requirement articulated in the 2020 Force Structure Plan for that additional dockyard capability.

We are progressing that planning work. We are yet to provide advice to government. Defence is working with the Australian government scoping out the art of the possible. Once we have a clearer picture of what is viable at the site in the AMC, we will make representations to government as to our Defence advice as to whether that is a suitable location to meet the capability need articulated in the 2020 Force Structure Plan. However, Western Australia make sense from a two ocean basing perspective. World's best practice is that you maintain where you operate. Our two main operating bases are Garden Island in Sydney—Fleet Base East—and Fleet Base West at HMAS Stirling.

Mr CONNELLY: Thanks for that. I appreciate the very succinct summary there. The only additional factor, at the national level, would be opportunities to capitalise on the international market and export opportunities. If, as we hope, we become good at building big ships—from companies like Austal, for example, including with the U.S. Navy—we have some runs on the board with Australian shipbuilding then being an export product.

Rear Adm. Spedding : Part of this integrated infrastructure program of studies I spoke to is a demand modelling activity, which is scoping out not just the extent of Defence work from a sustainment and shipbuilding perspective which would utilise that asset but what commercial work would also likely flow through that facility and what might be suitable for offer for use by allies and partners.

Mr CONNELLY: That is brilliant news. Thank you very much for that, Admiral.

CHAIR: Any other questions?

Mr SNOWDON: I want to acknowledge Mr Grzeskowiak, who is about to depart our Public Service. I've worked closely with him in the past. He's a very good person and does great work. I want to acknowledge your service, Steve, in the British defence force and the British defence establishment and here, over 43 years. When you leave us, we'll miss you. Thank you.

Mr Grzeskowiak : Thanks very much, Mr Snowdon.

CHAIR: Well said, Mr Snowdon. Thank you for your service to our nation, Mr Grzeskowiak, not in uniform but in a very important way for enabling our men and women in uniform to be able to do what they do. Thank you very much.

Mr Grzeskowiak : Thanks, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you for your attendance today. You'll be sent a copy of the draft transcript of your evidence when it becomes available and you'll have an opportunity to request corrections to transcription errors. General Fox, I have asked that you liaise with the secretariat to organise two separate private briefings. One was on fuel storage. The other one was that one that you asked for, Warren.

Mr SNOWDON: Yes, the classified briefing stuff, around DSG.

Major Gen. Fox : That was from the earlier session?

CHAIR: Yes.

Mr CONNELLY: Chair, there was also the one on the reserve force changes stuff we were talking about earlier.

CHAIR: We are getting a nod to all three. That would be great. Thank you. If you have agreed to provide any additional information—and you have—we would be extremely grateful if you could provide that to the secretariat by 9 July. If you need longer, let us know. Thank you to my colleagues. Thank you to Broadcasting and the secretariat. And thank you to our witnesses. We appreciate your time. That concludes this hearing.

Committee adjourned at 13:50