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Tuesday, 16 October 1973
Page: 2137

Mr LYNCH - I ask the Deputy Prime Minister: Is he aware of the very serious concern by the Department of the Army as to the number of resignations now before the Military Board by senior officers with the rank of half-colonel and above? Will he make available to the Parliament the figures as to the number of resignations which have occurred since the last issue of the 'Australian Government Gazette' and those which are before the Board at the present time? What action does the Minister intend to take to stem the alarming number of applications for resignation by senior officers? Is this a further indication of a serious decline in the morale of the Australian Army because of the policies of this Government?

Mr BARNARD - It is true that the number of resignations of male officers in the Australian Regular Army has increased in the first 9 months of this year compared with the figures for the corresponding period during previous years. Most of the officers who have resigned were 43 years of age or more. They were mainly captains and majors. The changes made by the Government to the defence forces retirement benefits scheme were intended to provide retirement benefits to older officers which were equitable and which would allow a reasonable level of turnover in order to provide promotional opportunities for younger officers. At this time there is no significant increase in the number of officers tendering their resignations for reasons of discontent with Service life. The resignation of officers in the older and more senior categories is beneficial in many ways, as the honourable member would know. For instance, it does tend to produce more career prospects for the younger officers and thereby maintain a younger and fitter army for coping with emergencies. Since the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has raised this question I would be happy to table the document relating to the number of resignations.

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