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Monday, 22 November 1993
Page: 3315

Senator FERGUSON —I direct my question to the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel. How many air traffic controllers have left the RAAF under the recent redundancy program? How many are currently in Somalia? Has this left the RAAF with a critical shortage of air traffic controllers? In the event of this shortage, have any air traffic controllers who left the air force under the redundancy program joined or been asked to join the RAAF reserve to fill their old positions or other air traffic positions which were declared to be redundant and, therefore, excess to air force requirements? Have any officers taken up this offer? Have they been required to repay their redundancy payments? If not, is this with your knowledge or with the knowledge of the Chief of the Air Staff? Finally, if there is a shortage, whose decision was it to declare these positions redundant and excess to air force requirements?

Senator FAULKNER —Senator Ferguson may be surprised to learn that I do not have the answers to his 10 questions in my back pocket. I will take those questions on notice and come back to him with the figures. I believe that there are about 10 or 11 air traffic controllers currently in Somalia. Most of the determinations and decisions that Senator Ferguson speaks of were made by the Royal Australian Air Force. I will establish the quantum involved in the nine or 10 different categories of his question and report to Senator Ferguson at a later stage.

Senator FERGUSON —Mr President, in the light of that part answer, I ask a supplementary question. When the minister is making those investigation, will he confirm that all air traffic controllers who recently accepted redundancy will not be returning to the RAAF to fill their old positions, or other air traffic positions, which were declared redundant and in excess to air force requirements, and that they will not return as members of the RAAF reserve, working under better conditions and better pay than their permanent, full-time counterparts, including being able to name the hours they are available and being paid somewhere in the vicinity of $100 a day tax free?

Senator FAULKNER —I will add those five questions to the 10 that the honourable senator previously asked.