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Thursday, 28 November 1974
Page: 2907

Senator PRIMMER (Victoria ) -I present the report and transcript of evidence of the inquiry by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence into the adequacy of the Australian Army to perform its necessary part in the defence of Australia.

Ordered that the report be printed.

I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

In considering the matter of the adequacy of the Australian Army the Committee has attempted to review and assess the efficiency and capabilities of the Army at the present time and for the years immediately ahead. The terms of the reference have been taken to include not only consideration of the size and structure but also a range of factors relating to the Army's capabilities, efficiency, competency and professionalism. Although we have focused our attention primarily on the Army we have been acutely aware that the Army's part in our defence cannot be isolated from the overall effort which involves all 3 Services. Accordingly we have referred to each of the Services and have recommended various courses of action which affect them. The Committee has been conscious also of the need to view the Armed Services' role in the defence of Australia in the much broader context of the social, economic and political determinants of national wellbeing.

The Committee's report comprises 3 broad parts. In the first the Committee considers Australia's strategic situation together with other considerations and constraints relating to the practical problems of defence planning. We have aimed in this part to highlight the principal features which affect Australia's defence policy and hence determine the scope of the overall defence effort required of the 3 Armed Services within the context of our total national capacity- in other words, to formulate our views concerning the nation's overall defence requirements. The second and by far the greatest part of the report concentrates on the Army as a whole. In this section we have considered and recommended various courses concerning the organisation and capabilities of the Army, its arms, equipment and manpower, and the support which is provided by the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. Higher command and control problems have also been examined, together with the problems which confront the profession at arms in peacetime. Our conclusions and recommendations are summarised for convenience in the final part of the report. Although I do not wish to speak at length at this stage, I believe the Committee's recommendations are worthy of close consideration by the Government. We feel sure that the report, which has the unanimous agreement of the members of the Committee, will promote considerable debate in a variety of forums, including this chamber. We look forward to such debate.

On behalf of the Committee I wish to express sincere appreciation to the many individuals and organisations who presented evidence to us and who assisted with the inquiry in a host of ways. The Committee is appreciative of the specialised advice which was provided by Colonel J. A. Warr throughout the duration of the inquiry. Finally, special mention should be made also, I believe, of my colleague, Senator Drury, who chaired the Committee from the commencement of the inquiry through to the final stages of the preparations of the report prior to leaving in August for the United Nations. I commend the report to the Senate.

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