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Thursday, 18 October 1973
Page: 2314

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - Does the Minister for Defence recall my question to him on Tuesday of this week concerning the resignation of senior Army officers? Does he recall also that, although he provided figures concerning the substantial increase in the number of resignations which have been accepted - a 100 per cent increase over that of the previous year - he specifically avoided answering how many applications for resignation are now before the Military Board? I ask the honourable gentleman: What is the number of applications for resignation now before the Board? Will the honourable gentleman tell the House why the normal monthly figures of resignations and of recruiting have not been released for the month of September even though they normally come out in approximately the middle of each month.

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - There has been no intention on my part or on the part of the Department of Defence not to make figures available. Indeed the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will concede that not only did I indicate that there had been an increase in the number of applications for resignation but also that I tabled the figures for the honourable gentleman. The figures as to the total number of applications that are before the Department of Defence in terms requesting a resignation are not available to me at the moment, but I undertake to obtain the figures for the honourable member. I will let him have them as soon as possible, and, if necessary, I will table the document in this Parliament.

One fact which is quite clear from the resignations that I have personally studied and of which the honourable gentleman will be aware is that when a resignation is put before the Department of Defence by a senior officer it normally comes to the Minister for his signature before it goes to the Executive Council. In the case of every application for resignation that I have considered personally, no request for a resignation has been based on the ground of discontent. It is quite clear that for the great majority of those who are now seeking to resign the attractiveness of the defence forces retirement benefit provisions has had some influence on those who believe that they would be advantaged not only in terms of their retiring allowances but also in terms of a full employment economy, that is, that they would have greater opportunities by retiring somewhat earlier than at the ages at which they would retire if they completed their terms. Finally, I say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that I will undertake to obtain the figures as early as possible, and I will let him have a full and considered reply.

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