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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 935


Mr MILLAR(8.31) —I am aware that the time allotted for this debate has virtually expired but I seek the tolerance of the Committee to make a few brief comments. Very recently, by virtue of the courtesy of the Minister for Defence (Mr Scholes), I had the opportunity of observing exercises at Camp Kerr within my electorate of the 511th Field Regiment of the reserve forces. Needless to say, I was very much impressed with the sense of purpose and the efficiency of that particular regiment engaged in its artillery exercises, but I observed one or two things of which I think honourable members and the Minister in particular may care to take heed.

Firstly, I was surprised to learn that the facility existing in Camp Kerr is utilised virtually on a 100 per cent basis throughout the year. It surprised me to learn that the various units of the forces coming into Camp Kerr are required to expend some of their very limited man hours, which are presently subject to restriction, in erecting marquees for instruction centres and certain other temporary support facilities for the troops of their regiment. So honourable members will appreciate that valuable time is wasted in establishing these facilities and dismantling them, only to have the process repeated by those who immediately supplant that regiment on site. It struck me that it would be of benefit if the Government were prepared to write off marquees or tents, to leave them there over a year or for such time as would be concomitant with their ordinary duration, so that the troops involved could apply themselves to training in the more vital aspect of their period at Camp Kerr.

I was also somewhat surprised to find that the kitchen facilities for what would be at times up to 700 troops are indescribably inadequate. I would never have imagined that the catering section should be required to provide sustenance for the troops with such limited facilities. I was also surprised to learn that each unit transports at distance pedestals for the toilets, packs them up and takes them away. If it were a case of a week or a fortnight of utilisation of the camp facility, perhaps we would accept it. I think that the troops themselves would be well served, and economies would be effected in relation to the total training facility, by an address to the continuing utilisation of these facilities. I would like to think that both the Minister for Defence Support (Mr Howe) and the Minister for Defence will take note of this matter and address themselves to the question of whether mutuality of benefit could be achieved by dealing with that problem. I emphasised when I commenced my remarks that I would not take advantage of the good nature of the Committee in affording me the opportunity to register those comments. I leave them with honourable members.