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Wednesday, 14 November 1990
Page: 4135

Senator LOOSLEY —My question is to the Minister for Defence and I ask: Is the Minister able to inform the Senate as to the Government's intention with regard to the Wrigley report on the Australian Defence Force and the community?

Senator ROBERT RAY —As I have pointed out previously, the Government regards the Wrigley report as a very important document and being worthy of serious consideration. I can now inform the Senate of the appointment of a high level interdepartmental committee (IDC) to consider the report and to develop implementation proposals. This interdepartmental committee will be chaired by Mr Rod Sims of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It will consist of representatives of the departments of Finance, Industry, Technology and Commerce, Industrial Relations, Transport and Communications and Treasury, as well as representatives of my Department and senior advisers to me and Mr Bilney. The deliberations of the IDC will run concurrently with the force structure review which I previously announced and with the development of a ready reserve proposal which my Department is also working on.

It is the Government's intention that the IDC deliberations will, along with other reports, be concluded by the end of March next year. We will then consider the resultant reports over April and put down a detailed statement for parliamentary debate in May. I should emphasise that the intention is not simply a cost-cutting exercise. Where savings can be identified, some or all will be redirected within the defence portfolio. The overall result should be a more effective Defence Force, a better local defence industry and greater community interest and involvement in our defence effort.