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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 508

Mr Staley asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

(1)   Has he approved a substantial increase in the size and quality of living accommodation, ancillary equipment and services to be provided for each member of the Armed Forces stationed in Australia.

(2)   If so, did the Treasury make any assessment of the costs involved and the means by which funds would be provided; if not, what steps did he take to satisfy himself as to the provision of funds or did he consider such an exercise to be unimportant.

(3)   If he does not have the information, will he arrange for officials of his department to prepare, in conjunction with the Treasury, and submit to the House, detailed estimates of (a) the cost of bringing existing accommodation up to the new standard and (b) the increased annual maintenance costs.

Mr Barnard - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   I did approve of improved scales and standards for living-in accommodation for the ranks of Corporal and below in the Army and equivalent ranks in the other Services. This was after consideration of the matter by an inter-departmental committee consisting of representatives of the Departments of Defence, Treasury, Works and the Services. In the past, planning was on the basis of 80 square feet per man with four men to a room. Toilet facilities served a whole floor of a barracks block. Such accommodation was considered outmoded and inadequate in the context of a modern all volunteer Defence Force and comparable facilities provided in the civilian area. From now on the planning basis will be 106 square feet per man in groups of four single rooms with separate toilet facilities for each group. Provision is also to be made for a common room on each floor of a barrack block.

(2)   The proper authority to make cost assessments was the designing and constructing authority, the Department of Works. That Department made an assessment of the estimated additional cost that would be involved in adopting the increased scales and standards. That cost was $3.8m in respect of accomodation planned for commencement of construction in the three year period 1973-74 to 1975-76. That cost will be met from within the allocation made for expenditure on Service works proposals within the total Defence Vote. I informed the Treasurer upon this matter in January 1973.

(3)   It is not intended to convert existing accommodation to the new scales and standards at this time. The immediate priority is to replace existing temporary accommodation, much of which is of World War II origin. That should have the effect of decreasing annual maintenance cost.

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