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$6 million to maintain Air Force capabilities welcomed: but where is the plan?

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The Hon Bob Baldwin MP

Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Personnel and Assisting Shadow Minister for Defence

9 September 2008


The Coalition has welcomed a new $6 million package that will offer selected Air Traffic Controllers and Air Field Engineering trades personnel retention bonuses.

But the Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Personnel and Assisting Shadow Minister for Defence, Bob Baldwin, has questioned the Government’s plans for recruitment.

“The retention bonuses meet the short term problem Defence has always had in losing its highly skilled air traffic controllers to the civilian workforce,” said Mr Baldwin.

“But I would like to see what the Labor Government’s plan is in recruiting more air traffic controllers.

“Losing these specialists to more lucrative positions in the private sector is always on the horizon so I would like to know what Mr Fitzgibbon’s detailed plan is on recruiting more air traffic controllers into defence.

“There is a widely reported national shortage of Air Traffic Controllers with figures ranging from 17 to as many as 100 to describe the need.

“I am advised that 20 per cent of Air Traffic Controllers at Williamtown RAAF Base have put in for discharge to go across to Air Services Australia. This figure is replicated at other bases across the country.

“Likewise, the retention bonuses of $20,000 for eligible electricians, plumbers and carpenters who commit to another two years of RAAF service is welcome, but does not address the recruitment need to stem the skills drain from our defence forces.”

Media enquiries: Bob Baldwin - 0419 694 620