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TV ads won't solve Defence Reserves crisis.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

30 May 2002

TV ADS WON’T SOLVE DEFENCE RESERVES CRISIS

Figures produced in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Defence budget report yesterday show that the Australian Reserve Force is in crisis.

The Government is embarking on another taxpayer funded advertising blitz to cover up the mess it’s made in Reserves, and it’s failure to come to grips with policy issues.

This is despite the fact that Defence’s own statistics show that national advertising campaigns, particularly television, are ineffective in turning inquiries into enlistments.

The Government has already placed its bet on how successful the advertising campaign will be, budgeting for a drop in the number of Reservists in 2002-03.

In 2000-01, the Government failed to attract even half the number of Australians it needed for the Reserves to perform the functions set by Howard in the White Paper.

The worst shortfall is in the front line, the Reserves Combat Forces, which last year achieved only 48% of the target set by the Government.

The total target for Reserves in 2001/02 was 5232 people, but only 2566 actually enlisted, a mere 49% of the numbers sought.

It is typical of the Howard Government’s preference to spend millions of taxpayer’s dollars on glossy advertisements but do absolutely nothing to address the well-documented reasons people aren’t joining.

The Common Induction Training (CIT) requirement has been clearly identified by the Department and Audit Office as the main reason people are not joining the Reserves.

Introduced by the Howard Government in 1998, the CIT has had catastrophic effects.

It requires all Army Reservists to train initially for 45 days, and Air Force and Navy Reservists for 10 weeks straight.

The undeniable logic and repeated calls to abolish the CIT have fallen on deaf ears. While it remains, the Government jeopardises the $1 billion investment in Reserves.

The Reserves crisis is happening at the very time the Government expects Reservists to be supporting military operations.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0438 983 908