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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2344

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(12.23) —Senator MacGibbon has asked detailed questions, some of which I can go some way to answering and others I will have to refer on. He referred to the run-down of the armed services. The loss of 1,049 officers was achieved by several mechanisms, as he knows. First of all, there was a loss of 523 officers as a result of the carrier and the fixed-wing capacity in the Navy not being proceeded with. In the Air Force there was an over-achievement of 66 officers in the last year. In the Army there was a reduction of 423 officers, which was the balance of the program which had been started earlier. The decisions were made on the basis of operational requirements, strategic requirements and economic requirements. No one pretends that any of those three factors were not involved.

I do not know the correct result of the dispute between Senator MacGibbon, Air Vice-Marshal Funnell and others. One says that their capability has been lost, the other says capability is being lost and the other says that, relatively, capability has not been lost. I will have to refer that matter to the experts in the Department of Defence because I certainly do not pretend to be an expert, unlike some people around here. I will have to get information on the details asked for by Senator MacGibbon from the Department. I will get that as soon as possible.