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Thursday, 11 May 1989
Page: 2309


Senator RICHARDSON (Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories) —I seek leave to present the Government's response to the report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on personnel wastage in the Australian Defence Force, and to incorporate the statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE `PERSONNEL WASTAGE IN THE DEFENCE FORCE', REPORT OF 10 NOVEMBER 1988 BY THE DEFENCE SUB-COMMITTEE OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE

BY

THE HON DAVID SIMMONS MP

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE SCIENCE AND PERSONNEL

11 MAY 1989

Introduction

I present the Government's response to the report, `Personnel Wastage in the Defence Force', prepared by the Defence Sub-Committee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, and tabled in the Parliament on 10 November 1988.

The Committee sought to analyse the extent and magnitude of the personnel wastage problems in the Australian Defence Force, and its effect on the ADF's capability. The Report offered a series of recommendations which the Committee believed would aid in the retention of personnel in the ADF.

On behalf of the Government I thank the members of the Committee for the time and energy they spent in preparing this report, and for their demonstrated concern for the well-being of the Australian Defence Force and for the defence of this nation.

As my predecessor Mrs Kelly said to the Committee in August last year, the profession of arms is a unique occupation. It requires people with special skills and a high level of commitment to their work and to their nation. I am pleased to have this opportunity to give due recognition to those who contribute so much to Australia's defence.

The men and women of our Navy, Army and Air Force and their families are a very important part of our Australian community. They are justly proud of their Service and of their own individual achievements. It is a pride in which we can all share.

Last year, during the Bicentennial celebrations, millions of Australians did share that pride, and paid tribute to that skill and commitment during the Naval Salute, the Army Tattoo and the Air Show.

But recognition of the Defence Force is not something that should be confined to such occasions, or remembered only on Anzac Day. While it may not always be so visible, that skill and commitment continues ever day at hundreds of locations both in Australia and overseas. The Government acknowledges and fully supports that commitment.

Two other important groups also need to be recognised. Firstly, the spouses and children of members of the Defence Force. While they provide invaluable personal support, the inescapable reality of Service life means that these families must endure considerable disruption and separation. This Government has been the first to truly recognise and act on the problems of Services families.

The second group which needs to be recognised is the civilian element of Defence. The provision of Australia's defence is a partnership to which both the Defence Force and the Department of Defence make a vital contribution. Many thousands in the Department work directly for and in support of the Services, many others, such as those in Defence Science have, as their primary and predominant task, the support of the Defence Force.

This Government's strong and continuing support for the Defence Force is a matter of public record. Despite the present era of economic constraint and reducing public sector expenditures, the real level of Defence funding has been maintained. The 1987 Defence White Paper has provided a logical and coherent basis for force development and exercise planning. A wide range of new high technology equipment has been provided or is on order. Later this year, Exercise Kangaroo 89 will provide the Defence Force with a great opportunity to test its skills and capabilities right across the northern part of the continent.

Personnel Wastage

The present levels of personnel wastage from the Defence Force is an issue of very great importance and concern. The Government has not sought to deny this fact, nor to disguise, in any way, the extent of the problem. We have been most active in taking effective measures to deal with this problem.

We have reviewed our manpower statistics so that the true extent of the wastage problem, and its impact on specific employment categories can be assessed accurately. This analysis demonstrated that the primary concern with separations is not necessarily the overall numbers leaving, but rather the impact on some specific employment categories.

We have analysed the reasons for the current high wastage rates. The major conclusion of that analysis is that there is no one cause for increased wastage and thus there is no one simple answer.

The public image of the Defence Force, the challenge of peace-time service, job satisfaction, Service-civilian relationship, conditions of service, housing, the needs and interests of spouses and families, education, postings policy, personnel management, competition from the wider economy, the simple desire to do something different. These issues and more are all involved in the wastage equation.

All this analysis was made available to the Committee by the Defence Organization in three agreed and detailed and public submissions.

The Committees's deliberations and their report took place within the context of a continuing program of Government action to both address the wastage problem, and more broadly, to improve the conditions and personnel management of the Defence Force. Many of the Committee's recommendations had already been implemented or were in train before the Committee's report was tabled. Action has continued during the period in which we have been analysing the Committee's report.

As part of our overall Defence Force personnel policy we have been actively seeking better personnel management practices, and an ongoing improvement in conditions of service.

We have introduced some creative new schemes that go beyond what the Committee's report recommends. We have continued to give priority to the areas we recognized as crucial before we had the benefit of this Report. We have, I believe, a proven record of performance across the full range of Service personnel issues, including

successful support for substantial increases in many key general and specialist allowances;

the provision of financial, educational and support arrangements for Service families;

a commitment of $750m to address the long neglect of Service housing, with more than $200M spent in the last two years; and

recognition of the important area of morale and job satisfaction through more responsive career management, and increased devolution of authority and responsibility.

These much needed improvements were introduced as part of an overall personnel management strategy. They were introduced in advance of the Committee's report. Where these improvements also overcome a perceived cause of wastage, we know we are on the right track.

The Committee's Report, like any report to Government, has the status of advice, not policy. I am happy to say, however, that much of what this Report recommends has been implemented, is in the process of being implemented, or will be.

A detailed response to each of the Committee's recommendations has been finalized, and I will table it at the completion of this Statement.

In this Statement, I want to go beyond an examination of the Committee's recommendations. I intend to place those recommendations within the broader scope of the Government's initiatives on Defence Force personnel policy.

There is one very important difference between the Government's personnel policy strategy and the terms of reference that constrained the Committee's Report.

As the Chairman said in his tabling speech:

If people are asked what is wrong with their organization and why they are leaving it, then that is precisely the kind of information they will provide; they are unlikely to say much about the positive aspects of their employment.

ADF personnel policy, however, cannot choose to ignore the positive aspects of ADF employment. Indeed, personnel policy cannot be run by wastage.

In that regard the Parliamentary Report is not, and cannot be, the engine for reform in ADF employment and family support. Reform was already in progress at the time the Committee's Report was in preparation, and has continued since.

The Committee's Report has provided a valuable focus for discussion; and the spirit of their recommendations fits in very well with what we have been doing. However, I am sure that no member of the Committee would want to see their Report taken as the outer limit of what the Government might do to improve retention.

In fact, the Government's initiatives in the area of Defence Force personnel policy do go beyond the scope of the Committee's report. Our initiatives take up the Committee's call for awareness, concern and action. They involve some major changes.

Review of DFRDB

Today I announced that there will be a complete review of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB). The Chiefs of Staff Committee has advised me that the DFRDB scheme no longer meets Service objectives, nor provides the right incentives to those who choose to make the profession of arms their lifetime career. The Committee has recommended that the scheme be reviewed.

The Government concurs.

There are effectively three groups of ADF personnel. There are those who join up for a short period, often to learn a skill or a trade, who serve out their period of engagement, and who leave to join the civilian workforce.

There are those who, encouraged by the structure of the DFRDB scheme, serve for twenty years in the ADF, and, in their late thirties or early forties, take their benefit and enter on a second career.

The third group consists of those who serve as members of the ADF until retirement, making the Service their life's work.

The DFRDB scheme works well for the second and third groups at the expense of the first.

While fitness and strength are still very important attributes, the Defence Force is coming to rely more and more on skills and technology. Therefore, it is time for us to question seriously whether twenty years is still the optimum period of military service for all groups in the Defence Force.

The DFRDB scheme was established in 1972 with the aim of providing a scheme which-would be easily understood by its membership; would be simple to administer; and would provide retirement benefits suitable for the special requirements of its members on re-settlement into civilian life. The scheme is now failing to meet at least the last of these objectives.

All public sector superannuation schemes, including DFRDB, are required to conform to the Government's occupational superannuation standards. With regard to the DFRDB scheme, the only significant change which may affect benefits relates to the reasonable benefit limits which are to be set by the Insurance and Superannuation Commission. These limits relate to the size of lump sums and pensions on retirement, relative to the level of salary at retirement. While these limits are yet to be set for the DFRDB scheme, they are likely to affect only a few very senior officers. I will make an announcement on the effect of the reasonable benefits limits when they are decided.

The Committee said that any review of the DFRDB scheme must be on the basis of no detriment to current contributors. I agree.

Let me be quite clear about this. Subject to the effect of the superannuation standards I have just mentioned, the Government gives an ironclad guarantee to those presently in service that the benefits of the existing DFRDB scheme for which they are contributing will remain available to be taken up when they leave the Services.

Some months ago my predecessor announced a limited examination of dependants and invalidity benefits under the DFRDB scheme. That examination will be completed.

In that respect, it has been of much concern to the Government that orphans' benefits under the DFRDB scheme are considerably less than under the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme. I am pleased to announce that from the first pension pay day in July, orphan benefits will increase by some $4300 per annum. Full details of this interim adjustment will be announced separately.

A small board of expert people will be appointed to review the DFRDB scheme and to recommend what changes should be made to it. The ADF will be represented on the review board.

Complete details of the terms of reference for the full review of the DFRDB scheme, and the composition of the board will be announced shortly. There will be opportunities for service personnel to make submissions.

The terms of reference for the review board will include a requirement to investigate and report on the feasibility of providing serving members with the option of transferring to any new scheme, if they so wish. There will be absolutely no compulsion for any serving members to do so, if they would prefer not to.

The review of the DFRDB scheme will also be, in effect, a review of the personnel needs of the ADF into the nineties and beyond. The DFRDB scheme must provide ADF personnel with fair recompense for their service, but must also be a major structural element in the pattern of ADF employment.

The great challenge for Service personnel management into the future will be to make the ADF a competitive and attractive employer of the specialists whose skills our re-equipment program and the modernization of our force structure requires.

The Committee rejected the Department of Defence's analysis that while wastage was of major concern, it was of serious concern only in some specific specialist areas.

Without reopening this debate, I think it is important to realise that in future the following is a likely scenario: As Australian industry restructures and develops, there will be a shortfall in skilled trades, engineers, project managers and executives until the Government's greatly accelerated tertiary training effort can take up the slack. Skilled members of the Defence Force will be targeted to fill such shortfalls.

This case is one where, I suggest, a personnel policy that allowed itself to be directed by wastage would be off the track.

The DFRDB review will be predicated on the future manpower needs of the ADF, and on the retirement incomes policy that this Government has put in place throughout the workforce.

The ADF and Community Standards

The Government bases its ADF personnel strategy on two fundamentals. The first is the recognition that the profession of arms is a unique profession, with unique traditions, duties and skills.

The second is that the Defence community, while it is unique, is also part of the Australian community. ADF personnel and their families live much of their lives just as all the rest of us do. They are affected by the same rules and regulations, they are influenced by the same social dynamics, they feel the same aspirations as the rest of the Australian community.

And that society is changing. It is from a changing society that the ADF has to recruit, and in a changing society that the ADF has to retain, its personnel.

We cannot afford to hanker after the values and work practices of the 1950s. We live and work in the late 80s, and the ADF must accommodate itself more to that reality.

It is a reality that includes increasing job mobility, especially by younger members of the work force. It includes the legitimate and rising expectations of women for education, for their own careers, for child care. It includes all the legitimate expectations that members of the Defence Force share with every other Australian-expectations like good quality housing and educational opportunities for their children.

To ignore wider social movements in a serious discussion about Service personnel policy is to duck the issues.

It is also ducking the issues to pretend that the two fundamentals on which our personnel strategy is based are always harmonious, and this is the one area in which I and the Government are strongly at odds with the recommendations of the Cross Committee.

Review of ADF Pay

Recommendation 21 of the Report asks the Minister to direct the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal to ``undertake a complete job analysis and job evaluation review of the ADF, exclusive of National Wage Guidelines, for the purpose of establishing wage levels which are based on the recognition of the members of the profession of arms as a distinctive institution.''

There are two reasons why this recommendation is unacceptable.

First, it attacks the independence of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. The Tribunal is established by legislation to be an independent body which reviews Defence Force pay and allowance claims on their merits. The Tribunal is not subject to Government direction, nor should it be.

The only limitation placed on the Tribunal is the requirement that it should have regard to principles determined by the Industrial Relations Commission. These principles include the National Wage Guidelines.

The second reason the recommendation is unacceptable is the principle that the National Wage Guidelines apply to all Australian employees. In this sense, the notion of Service personnel as members of the Australian community overrides their membership of a unique profession.

While the Government does not accept this particular recommendation, we do believe that a full pay review should be undertaken-a review within the Guidelines.

The current structural efficiency principle is designed to reward enterprises that improve efficiency and provide more varied and fulfilling jobs. The ADF has commenced a pay review under this principle.

This review will address the compression of salaries of senior officers as recommended by the Committee. The review will incorporate the outcome of the current structural review of higher ADF staff arrangements being undertaken by Major General Sanderson.

An important additional outcome of this aspect of the case should be more fulfilling jobs for those posted to Canberra. This will address the perceived dissatisfaction in the middle levels of the ADF towards Canberra postings-a topic much discussed in the Committee's Report.

The ADF pay case will also seek pay adjustments based on structural changes and efficiency measures introduced across the whole ADF. The case will therefore encompass the pay of all ranks in the ADF. The aim is to develop the case for submission to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal later in 1989.

A leaner, more efficient organization uses every resource in a more effective way. And people are our best resource. If they feel they have little effective input into the Defence process, are just shuffling papers, or duplicating someone else's job, then dissatisfaction and disillusion are inevitable. The current structural review of higher Defence Force staff arrangements is directed towards rectifying such problems.

Civilianization

The Government intends to continue our policy of civilianization within Defence.

I am aware that the Committee had some difficulty with this concept. Let me reassure them, and this House, that civilianization does not, and will not be allowed to degrade combat capability or the operational or manning flexibility of the Defence Force.

The aim of civilianization is not to convert positions from military to civilian for its own sake, or for reasons solely of peacetime cost-effectiveness. Rather the aim is to ensure that our military/civilian balance is the one which maximises the combat potential of the ADF. Used this way, civilianization releases Service professionals from tasks which do not require specific military skills and puts them in field positions where these skills are needed. Civilianization thus increases the ``teeth to tail'' ratio across the whole of the Defence Force.

Conditions of Service and Service Families

Let me turn now to the other two major areas: the Service family, and conditions of Service.

I plan to take these together, because they are by nature related.

Conditions of service are the elements of ADF remuneration that recognise, in a tangible way, that the profession of arms is a unique profession.

Specialist allowances recognise special skills, and other allowances make up for disadvantages or difficulties inherent in Service life, most of them clustered around the operational need for postings.

Postings impact very much indeed on Service families. The dissatisfactions identified in this area by the Committee relate very closely to the effect of mobility. Thus, education, housing and disturbance and rental allowances are all involved here.

Under this Government, the Service family has become, for the first time, a recognised entity with its own special needs, pressures and difficulties.

I believe that the Government, and in particular my predecessor, Mrs Kelly can be very proud of what has been done. I do not have the leisure to go through what we have achieved today, but Mrs Kelly has already reported to this House on the implementation of the recommendations of the Hamilton Report.

We intend to proceed with an alternative to the Committee's suggestion for a White Paper on Service families. There have been enough reviews and reports. We prefer to keep achieving results.

A Defence families policy plan therefore will be incorporated in a proposed Defence Personnel Policy Plan. That plan will parallel the Defence Five Year Programme. The family policy plan will coordinate family support measures and allow for a systematic periodic review of these arrangements.

Disturbance Allowance

Despite improvements in postings policy, mobility is a fact of Service life, and disturbance an inevitable consequence.

Disturbance Allowance is a difficult allowance to administer. It is meant to cover the range of costs incurred by an individual or family during a removal that is not individually reimbursed. Naturally personal circumstances and expenses of a removal will vary to some degree.

Recognising the mobility of the ADF, we consider the present arrangement for married members is sound whereby the amount of Disturbance Allowance is tiered according to the number of removals experienced.

Present rates effective from 29 November 1988 range from $545 for the first and second removals to $1095 after seven or more removals.

We support the recommendation that there should be a survey of Disturbance Allowance. Defence has set in train a co-operative study with 12 large organisations, both in the public and private sector, which have a requirement to re-locate their employees. On a confidential basis each organisation is being asked to provide details of the degrees of assistance provided to its employees to re-locate. Defence will reciprocate by providing details of its assistance.

It is hoped to have the survey completed by June. The data gained could provide a valuable insight into approaches in other industries and assist in deciding whether present assistance provided to the ADF is appropriate.

Temporary Rental Allowance

The Committee's recommendation on Temporary Rental Allowance reflects a general dissatisfaction with the operation of this form of housing assistance.

The whole arrangement for this allowance requires major improvement. Therefore, the Defence Housing Authority will, on a progressive basis, substitute itself as the lessee of rented housing.

That is to say, when the Defence housing stock is inadequate for the ADF's total needs in a particular area, the DHA will take out leases with private owners and the individual ADF tenants will occupy these houses on the same basis as if the houses were part of the permanent Defence housing stock.

I hope that the DHA also will establish a `market' among ADF members who are home-owners and who are leaving their homes on posting.

The new arrangements when fully in place would remove, for many, the frustrations of house hunting in a new locality and should enable more door-to-door removals with considerable benefits to families who at present must sometimes endure longer than necessary stays in temporary accommodation.

The new arrangements will require a lot of preparatory work by the DHA. However, the DHA will take over the role progressively from 1 November this year.

Initially, the DHA intervention will be to remove some aspects of the present system which the Sub-Committee criticises. Members eligible to rent privately will advise the DHA the details of suitable accommodation that has been found.

The DHA will take out the lease and the member will be required to pay only the normal personal rental contribution. Bonds paid by individuals will be eliminated, and experienced DHA staff will manage repairs and maintenance in consultation with individual landlords.

The important element of choice in rental housing will be preserved. I am aware that some families choose to spend more on housing than the normal level of contribution. Such families will be able to opt out of the new system, while still receiving the same level of housing assistance.

As the DHA operates on a commercial basis, it will charge the Department of Defence a fee for its services.

This Government is proud of its achievements in Defence housing. Progression in new construction and acquisitions has been matched by improvements in the speed and standard of repairs and maintenance. Housing Management Centres are being progressively established by the DHA in all regions of Defence housing concentration. Letters from tenants attest to the high degree of satisfaction with the new standards of repairs and maintenance which these centres are delivering.

Following the report in 1986 of the Task Force that examined Public Service and Defence Force housing, the Government adopted a set of principles to govern the provision of housing for its employees. A key principle is that there should be compensation provided for those who incur a housing disability by virtue of employment.

Rents paid by Defence Force personnel have always been viewed by this Government as conditions of service. There is no intention of changing that policy.

There are two other Defence housing initiatives that I wish to address today.

Renegotiation of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement (Services)

The first of these concerns the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement (Services)-the CSHA(S). Under that agreement, the Commonwealth provides subsidised loans to the States to provide low income housing which in turn is leased to Defence for Service housing. Some 14000 houses presently are provided under that agreement. It is the view of the Government that the agreement has outlived its usefulness. The agreement has failed to provide and maintain housing of the quality or maintenance standard required by Defence Force families.

I am pleased to announce that the Government has agreed to seek the renegotiation of this agreement with the States. This action will greatly assist Service families by allowing for a marked improvement in the standard of Service housing.

Under our proposal, the Defence Housing Authority would take over the ownership of 7000 CSHA(S) houses. These houses could then be upgraded or replaced. The remaining 7000 CSHA(S) houses would be released to the States for public housing purposes over the next five years. These houses would be replaced by new housing provided under the existing Defence housing program.

Post May 1985 Housing Assistance

The second housing initiative concerns the form of housing assistance to be provided for those who enlisted after May 1985 and who are ineligible for the Defence Service Homes Loan of $25,000 over 25 years.

It has been the Government's wish to establish a new form of housing assistance which would help to retain members in service and which would in some way provide a benefit proportional to the service rendered, and to the housing disability encountered by virtue of service.

The new scheme, which I announced today will, as previously, require an initial period of service of six years. Having met that eligibility period, a member who enlists after 14 May 1985 will be entitled to a housing loan of $40,000 with interest being subsidised so that it remains 40% below the market housing loan interest rate. This subsidy will be provided for a period equal to the number of years in excess of six that a member serves.

For example, a 16% market rate would mean a subsidised loan interest rate of 9.6%. Loan subsidies will be available for a maximum of 25 years. The maximum subsidy period is 20 years.

Details of the scheme will be announced separately. Eligibility for the scheme will begin to accrue when members reach their six years service point in May 1991. At that time, Service personnel who enlisted before May 1985, who are still serving and who have not used their Defence Service Homes Loan, will be given a one time option to forgo that entitlement in favour of the new scheme.

Assistance for Defence Force Families

One of the most important products of the Hamilton Report was the establishment of ADFILS-the Australian Defence Family Information Section. By providing Service families with information and the skills to use it, ADFILS' aim is to develop a better community spirit and to enable families to help themselves.

ADFILS staff are presently working on projects such as employment opportunities and work skills for spouses, health care and parenting issues, neighbourhood houses, child care, sole parent support groups, children's educational programs and youth activities.

This self help approach, and local Defence community efforts needs to be recognised and fostered. I therefore have given approval for grants of up to $20,000 per year to be made to each major base for allocation to organizations of Defence families which are formed with the objective of assisting local community welfare. Within guidelines necessary to protect the spending of public moneys, the priorities for use of the funds will be at the discretion of the local organizations.

I believe these grants will encourage innovative ideas on community support and will be a useful mechanism for the Defence community to determine its own highest priority needs.

Family Information Network (FIND)

We have also, since Mrs Kelly reported to Parliament on the implementation of the Hamilton Report, introduced the FIND system, a 008 number that Service personnel and their families can ring, from anywhere in Australia, to get information on their entitlements or about community services in a new posting, or about anything else they need to know.

FIND is convenient and confidential. It answers a need identified in the Hamilton Report for Service families to have a ``clear choice'' to direct their questions.

It is obviously answering a need. The planning estimate was fifty calls a day; but the inquiries have been running at between two and three times that rate.

FIND is a case of appropriate, and relatively new, technology being harnessed to an identified need. 008 telephone services have been gradually increasing in popularity since their introduction, and people are now familiar with the idea. I am delighted that the Defence Force has been able to respond with a creative, simple solution to a time-honoured problem.

Education

The Cross Report identified education as an area of special concern to Defence families. Progress, real progress, is being made in that area.

The Australian Education Council (AEC), the peak group consisting of the Minister for Employment, Education and Training, the State Ministers for Education and their Directors General, set up a committee to study mobility issues, following the Student Portfolio Scheme trialled by Defence in 1988. Core curriculum issues are being addressed as part of a related review.

These developments are a significant breakthrough. They are a tribute both to the Minister, and to his State colleagues, some of whose predecessors have been more interested in competition and confrontation than in the sensible spirit of cooperation that is now abroad.

I am delighted that the Defence Student Portfolio Scheme has been the catalyst for such a positive development.

The National Consultative Group of Service Spouses also has been asked to advise me on improvements that could be made to the conditions governing extra tuition allowance, which assists with the costs of private tuition when a child changes schools. The take up rate of the allowance has been well below expectation. I believe the scheme could benefit many more families.

All these steps are designed towards assisting Defence families to preserve unity and to minimise education considerations being the cause for family separations. This should be our fundamental principle.

When separation must occur due to stages of education reached, Education Allowance may be available to assist. The take up of this allowance has been improved in the last two years. This reflects changes made to give greater discretion to those administering the scheme. Nonetheless, there remain a few aspects of the scheme that seem to produce unfair outcomes. These aspects are being reviewed.

Other Initiatives

I can also announce today that the Government has decided to implement, in a modified form, the suggestions made by the Committee on postal assistance, and the provision of equipment and supplies so that members of the Defence Force can undertake minor ``do it yourself'' improvements to their married quarters and singles accommodation. In addition, we are at present finalising arrangements for a discount buying scheme for Defence families.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I should like to thank Rear Admiral Alan Beaumont and Mr. Ray Finnegan, who have been tireless in their task of reviewing the recommendations of the Joint Committee, and in coordinating the development of the initiatives which I have announced today.

Their cooperation, and the cooperation that they have obtained from throughout the Personnel areas of the three Services and the Department, demonstrate that Service-civilian relations in Defence often are less competitive and more harmonious than myth has them.

I would like to pay a special tribute to my predecessor Mrs Kelly for her great contribution to the improvement of the conditions of members of the Defence Force and their families. The very widely based and genuine statements of appreciation and regret that greeted her move from this portfolio provide eloquent testimony to that contribution.

I have high hopes for the measures that I have outlined today. They represent another substantial series of steps in the rational, and integrated program of improvements that this Government has provided for ADF personnel and their families. I am confident that these measures also will have a significant effect in turning around the current high levels of wastage.

We have proved that we are about getting results.

Everything that I have detailed today, together with the detailed responses to the Committee's recommendations, is part of a coordinated strategy to improve personnel management in the ADF and to provide better services to Defence families.

With this package of improvements, ADF personnel and their families have further evidence of this Government's clear commitment to them.

I thank the House for its attention; and I table the Government's detailed responses to the recommendations in the Committee's report.


Senator RICHARDSON —I table the following paper:

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade-Joint Committee-Defence Sub-Committee-Report on Personnel Wastage in the Australian Defence Force-Ministerial Statement in response to the Report tabled on 10 November 1988 by the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, dated 11 May 1989