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FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
17/09/1996
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
Program 1--Forces executive
Subprogram 1.3--Personnel

Senator MacGIBBON --Again going back to the defence annual report, the personnel policy strategic review, which is on pages 41 and 42, what changes do you envisage will occur in the ADF's personnel strategy as a result of the review of your personnel policies and practices?

Vice Adm. Walls --If I can respond initially in a simple form and then develop it, Senator: the prime purpose, as I saw it, of the Glenn review, which was initiated by General Baker when he was VCDF, was to examine ways in a modern Australian context, a forward-looking context, of how we might attract, retain and sustain the development of the right sorts of people needed for the Defence Force.

In the course of his review, Mr Glenn made an extraordinarily comprehensive report. He provided us with essentially a new set of principles on how we should be approaching our personnel strategy and our personnel management. It was extraordinarily comprehensive and it was also extraordinarily complex.

My personal perception was that it arrived at an interesting time in terms of government. It was considered by the previous government; it has been considered by the new government. There are policy issues in it which have had cause to be re-examined and reviewed, but in simple terms some measures which he recommended could be put in place almost immediately, and they have been actioned.

There are other matters which might take up to three or four years and involve quite definite or deliberate government policy decisions on whether or not they will be implemented. The most recent one was announced by Minister Bishop only last week on a range of arrangements which Mr Glenn and his review team had recommended for members without family. Needless to say, there are some costs to the defence budget involved in implementing those recommendations. Nonetheless, Minister Bishop announced them as being accepted and now a matter of government policy.

My understanding is that they have been welcomed by members of the ADF--the single members, if you like; the members without family. But, in terms of developing the detail of the point of your question, if you have any particulars which you would like me or Air Vice Marshal Cox to pursue, we will be pleased to respond.

Senator MacGIBBON --I will just make the general point that we have seen more recruitment reviews than any of us can count.

Vice Adm. Walls --Our recruiting is now better than it has been in some years.

Senator MacGIBBON --All right, what was the experience in the last 12 months?

Vice Adm. Walls --I would have to check my figures. Off the top of my head, my memory tells me that we got 84 per cent of our targets for recruiting last year, the deficiency was essentially in navy, although we had some technicians in army and air force as well, and we had some problems with officer recruitment in air force. This year we are running on target for army; in fact, if anything, we are likely to exceed the planned targets. The figures are being re-examined. In air force terms we are up to recruiting target with everything except technicians, officer something or others--I would have to go to you for details on this. Interestingly enough, in navy terms, we are now having more success recruiting than we have had in some years, to the point where, for the first time that I can recall, navy is now starting to reduce its targets. I do not feel particularly comfortable that we are necessarily going to match all navy's needs by the end of the fiscal year, but I am pleased to tell you that those reviews have worked.

Senator MacGIBBON --Why is navy different from the other two services in having difficulty attracting--

Senator WEST --That is a leading question to a sailor, is it not, Senator.

Senator MacGIBBON --I could not think of anyone better.

Senator WEST --I know, but he is still a sailor at heart.

Vice Adm. Walls --The Defence Force and the navy, of course, as part of that, do exit interviews on why people leave; and at the same time there are also reviews conducted as part of the leadership management process in each of the services on how people are feeling, if you like, about their current circumstance. The indicators are that young Australians in the navy have difficulty these days in going to sea. Apparently the old attractions of joining the navy and seeing the world are not quite the way they used to be: more people have the opportunity to see the world. I think family, or partner and children, separations are having an impact in a way that they probably did not in terms of my generation.

Some of the surveys have indicated some other areas of concern, including some people's attitudes to management, but I think I would probably defer to the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff if you wanted any more detail.

Senator MacGIBBON --We might take it up there.

Senator WEST --Can I ask a question on economic--

CHAIR --No, Senator.

Senator MacGIBBON --No, we are on personnel.

CHAIR --Senator MacGibbon has the floor.

Senator MacGIBBON --I now move to the matter of sexual harassment, again on the Defence annual report, page 23. In the estimates of March 1994, I questioned the then minister on the incidence of sexual harassment in the ADF and commented that under the statistics provided in subprogram 1.3 of that year, there seemed to be an increasing number of cases of sexual harassment reported; at that stage there were 32. Could you advise me as to the number of cases that have been reported in the last 12 months, and is that an increase or a decrease on the previous 12?

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes, we can. The figures for 1994-95 were 109 incidents of sexual harassment reported; in the period 1995-96--I might add I am talking in terms of July to June in these two years--the number was 84; the incidence of sexual offences in the ADF in the period July 1994 to June 1995 was 34 and for 1995-96 for the same period, 16.

Senator MacGIBBON --Can you break down those complaints? In 1994 Air Commodore Bradford broke them down over the three services in the categories of language, non-contact action and others. Can you do those?

Vice Adm. Walls --I could, but I would have to take that on notice.

Senator MacGIBBON --Sure, okay.

Vice Adm. Walls --As it happens I have them in front of me in terms of service, but I do not think that would be useful necessarily.

Senator MacGIBBON --The draft annual report on page 23 suggests in terms of the 008 harassment help line that there has been an increase in calls to this facility, so is that an indication that you have some way to go in resolving the problem?

Vice Adm. Walls --I think that is one interpretation. Other ones would be that the utility of the free call lines is being more widely recognised and people are therefore using it more. You would be aware that the counsellors that respond to calls on those lines are now well trained and experienced counsellors, and I think they have developed a degree of expertise in assisting people that call which literally encourages people to make use of the service. I feel very comfortable that the numbers of callers are increasing, because that means that people who need help, advice or assistance are asking for it and getting it.

Senator MacGIBBON --A couple of years ago I asked a question as to whether it was possible to quantify the cost of sexual harassment to the services in terms of days lost, posting people to avoid conflict, counselling, legal expenses and so on. Is it possible now to quantify the cost of sexual harassment to the ADF?

Vice Adm. Walls --I do not have any direct information on that, Senator. I would have to take advice on that.

Senator MacGIBBON --What is your view, Admiral, on the whole problem? Do you think you are getting a handle on it now? Do you think the position is improving?

Vice Adm. Walls --I find that very difficult to judge. I could make an assertion that I hope what you say is so. The indicators that we have are that the number of incidents that people report in an environment where we encourage them to report--where there were difficulties that were initially in place in environmental terms--have now been much reduced, if not eliminated, and the number of reports has fallen substantially. I think that is encouraging, but in the same sense that you have asked the question I do not think one could ever afford to be complacent or satisfied that, just because the trend line is encouragingly down, we have got the problem under control. I think it is something that we need to keep working at just as hard as we have in recent times.

Senator MacGIBBON --All right. Now I want to move to the particular. In my own state, in Townsville, you would be aware that there was an incident, an alleged harassment case, in 1993-94 which resulted in a court martial in 1994. I noted in the Townsville Bulletin in February of this year a report which said that the matter of the alleged sexual harassment was to be heard by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission but had been resolved prior to the hearing by the commission. Is that correct?

Vice Adm. Walls --I will have to check the facts on that.

Senator MacGIBBON --How long will that take?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --My understanding is that that is correct.

Senator MacGIBBON --So it was settled prior to the hearing?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Correct.

Senator MacGIBBON --How was it settled or resolved? Was there a financial settlement, was there an agreement for counselling or what took place?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --My understanding again is that the terms of settlement are based on non-disclosure; they are not widely known and I cannot answer that question.

Senator MacGIBBON --I think it is a matter of some interest in the community up there. It is a public interest matter and I think it is important that you do advise the committee whether there was any financial settlement involved.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Madam Chair, the difficulty with this particular process is that once the parties have accepted, one of the conditions under which acceptance is put and agreed is that there will be a non-disclosure feature of it; and therefore actually to disclose it would be to undermine the settlement.

Senator MacGIBBON --Then you lead the committee to believe that there was compensation paid, or there would not have been anything to conceal?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --If I can speak more broadly than this particular case, when these agreements are struck they might range across numerous issues. Other grievances which the parties may have had may be withdrawn, there may be some financial compensation, there may be some apologies asked for, offered and given, so the components of any particular settlement do differ. But they span a whole range. It can be monetary, as I indicated. It can be as simple as the offering of an apology--a formal apology--from the department.

Senator MacGIBBON --Surely if it was a simple apology there would be no need for secrecy, would there?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --That depends on the conditions of the acceptance of the aggrieved party. If the aggrieved party makes the point that they will accept the conditions on the basis that it is going to be a non-disclosure policy, that is the way it is done.

Senator MacGIBBON --Let us take it in simple terms. Somebody has a grievance, they go to the human rights and equal opportunity court. The matter is settled before it goes to a hearing. You presume the person with the grievance was satisfied.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --You can make that assumption.

Senator MacGIBBON --You must make that assumption. You therefore believe that there must have been some grounds for that to have occurred.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I do not disagree with that but the grounds can vary. They may include some financial transfers. It may be, as I said, as simple as giving an apology. Some of them, in fact, are that simple. Some people who are aggrieved, who believe that they have been badly done by, are not necessarily looking for any form of financial compensation, they are not looking for any particular action other than to have the department apologise for the action that was taken.

Senator MacGIBBON --You can see the difficulty here. We have to account for the expenditure of public funds. There is a presumption that there may have been a payment of money in settlement and the question of why the defendant--or, in this case, the person making the complaint--would be paid when the person against whom the charge was made was tried by court martial and acquitted. Why was the defence not consistent?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I am in a difficult position. I cannot recall the outcome of it at any rate--

Senator MacGIBBON --Could you look it up and get the details?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --But, as I keeping come back to, there is this difficulty with non-disclosure.

Vice Adm. Walls --We would be happy to provide you with a briefing on the details of the case.

CHAIR --Is that all on program 1.3?

Senator WEST --I want to ask a question. In relation to cases that go to HREOC--a decision is made and money is to be paid--who pays the money, the ADF, or the particular service, or the individual against whom the action has been taken?

Mr Hannan --It is paid by the department and by the program in which the individual is employed. If it were an air force case, it is funded out of the compensation component within the air force program.

Senator WEST --Thank you. I have other questions on 1.3 but I just wanted to follow up that particular matter.

CHAIR --Senator Evans, you have some questions on 1.3?

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Yes. One relates to the retention bonus. I understand, looking at the budget papers, that $17 million has been dedicated to retention initiatives this coming year. I want to ask: which groups are they being targeted at; where are the problems; what is the Defence Force's assessment of how the retention bonuses are working as a management tool? I do not know if the relevant officer is at the table.

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes, they are; there is one on that side and one on this side. He is the money and he is the people. The $17 million has a number of components to it, not the least of them being air traffic control. With your agreement, Madam Chair, I will invite Air Vice Marshal Cox to speak to the particular areas that they are targeted at and the results that they are getting. Then we will talk about the money.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The air traffic control bonus has cost $7.5 million in the first year. To date, 108 out of 160 eligible controllers have accepted the bonus from that particular package.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Sorry, could you repeat those figures?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Yes; 108 out 167 have accepted the bonus.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --And what does non-acceptance indicate?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --That they may not--

Senator CHRIS EVANS --That they do not want the money or--

Air Vice Marshal Cox --That they wish to leave.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --What conditions are attached to the acceptance of the bonus?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --It is a fully taxed $70,000 bonus for air traffic control and, in return, there is a five-year commitment to serve.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Was that offered to all air traffic controllers or only those of a certain age group or level of experience?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The targeting was based on qualifications and age.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Does that mean that someone who, say, was in their early fifties would not be targeted because of their age?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Unlikely, if they did not have the time to serve or if they did not have the particular qualification.

Vice Adm. Walls --We would not discriminate on an age basis though.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --No; that was not really my thinking. I was just trying to think how you make that decision. Is it because you are particularly keen to keep some people with a particular qualification? Or is it because outside organisations are targeting a particular skill or a particular qualification? I am just trying to get a feel for how it works.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Often they are the same thing. The more highly qualified controllers, of course, were more attractive to the civil aviation people who at the time were recruiting them. So the bonuses are targeted to that particular group who have the qualifications which the air force needs and the ADF needs and which are also attractive to the outside interests.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --And have you had any difficulties with concern about those not offered the bonuses or not targeted?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Not to my knowledge.

Vice Adm. Walls --Although I would make the remark that inevitably, when you use that sort of bonus system to retain people, there are difficulties with those who are not part of the target audience.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --That has always been my experience so I just wondered how that was bedding down.

Vice Adm. Walls --We have another of those sorts of things with pilots and working out how to target pilots. Taking account of the implications that you are suggesting is a difficult management and leadership exercise.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --That is what I was going to ask. I see that $7.5 million is targeted at air traffic controllers. Where is the other $9.5 million targeted?

Mr Hannan --If I could clarify: the air traffic controllers is an ongoing program; $5.1 million was spent last year and the tail of it will be this year. The $17 million is in addition to the air traffic control. I think the comment was in relation to the efficacy of the provision of a bonus. But the $17 million relates to retention bonuses which have yet to be agreed.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Right. But obviously, if you have budgeted $17 million, you have some idea of--

Mr Hannan --Yes.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --who is going to be targeted. So I guess I am trying to explore the problem areas and whom you intend targeting.

Vice Adm. Walls --The simple answer is: pilots--in particular, air force pilots. But there are others in army and navy as well.

Senator MacGIBBON --Rather than giving them a few million, why do you not give them a few more flying hours?

Vice Adm. Walls --I think we are addressing that as well. Certainly, one of the management sore spots that has come up with pilots is that they would prefer to be flying than at desks. One of the difficulties that we have had though, as you would be aware, is that we need pilots' knowledge, experience and advice in desk jobs.

It is true to say that air force are much more targeted on which ones they pick for the desks. But the fact of the matter is that we have a shortage which is giving us a serious management problem. We have increased our recruitment rates and our training rates on pilots in an attempt to overcome it, but the solution is not a short-term one.

Senator MacGIBBON --You would fix a lot of your problems though if you gave them more flying time.

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Are these programs targeted at particular ranks? Are certain ranks excluded or is it more the job classification--

Vice Adm. Walls --To focus on pilots, the ones that would probably be most likely to be in the target area would be squadron leader equivalents. There may be some at flight lieutenant level as well but we are probably looking for things that are much more specific than rank. For example, a QFI, an air combat instructor or a captain cat. B, those sorts of things, are not directly related to rank and certainly not to age. But we normally provide for the chief of the service to pick out any odd or particular cases where the general rules do not apply and give him the discretion to pick up, say, a wing commander or somebody like that.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --And is there any sort of appeal process or any mechanism for resolving any disputes about who is targeted?

Vice Adm. Walls --No, just the normal service chain of command, I think I would say, senator.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --And the program for the pilots, would that also be looking at sort of a figure around the $70,000 mark? Has that been decided?

Vice Adm. Walls --There have been some proposals forwarded to Minister Bishop and Minister McLachlan. I do not think I am in a position to speak publicly on those at this stage.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Can I ask how the payment to the air traffic controllers is made? Is it made as a one-off payment, or is it paid over the five years?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The payment is made as a one-off payment, up front. It makes it more attractive if it is done that way.

Senator WEST --How do you ensure that they stay for the five years to get your return of service in?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --There is a commitment. They are bound once they take the payment unless there are some exceptional circumstances. If they wish to leave there is a requirement to repay the totality pre-tax, which is a reasonable financial disincentive for someone to leave early.

Senator WEST --So health would be one of the reasons--they can be medicalled out and not have to repay.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --There can be those sorts of circumstances.

Senator WEST --You would want to be checking their health fairly well would you not because air traffic controllers have got a fairly high rate, in the civilian force anyway, of succumbing to stress.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --They are checked annually so I think we have a pretty good feel for that.

Senator WEST --This is not causing any distortion in the rank structure is it--or a potential for it?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --In regard to air traffic control?

Senator WEST --Any of the retention bonuses causing distortions, lumps, bumps and keeping people back who had reasonable expectations that there might have been a promotion around.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --With air traffic controllers, the majority reached the maximum rank of a flight lieutenant or one off that flight lieutenant. Some went beyond that but indeed that was one of the problems because under our present arrangements we pay by rank and the flight lieutenant rank is fixed and therefore there was little opportunity for flexibility to pay other than through a bonus scheme.

One of the things that the admiral mentioned earlier in response to Senator MacGibbon's question is that we are looking at initiatives as part of the personnel strategy and we are contemplating being able to free up in some way the way we actually financially reward people, whether through differences in allowances or differences in pay and remuneration generally. But with the air traffic controllers I do not think it would have been a problem because that is about the maximum rank they would have gone to. On the pilot side, if a bonus were to be introduced for pilots, likewise I do not think that would be problem either because the separation rates presently exceed what we want and are giving us difficulties in filling some of the more senior positions. Therefore, if we can maintain the base we have got a better seat of activity to move onwards to the higher rank levels.

Senator WEST --Maybe you can give us, just for the record, some indication of what a squadron leader air traffic controller would have as a normal salary as opposed to an air traffic controller out in civvy street?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I can tell you. I can also tell you the one outside is paid $21,000 extra to what I find in my briefing--but I do have the figures if you wish.

Senator WEST --It is a matter of interest to get some idea and some perspective on what the salary rates are outside. I am not saying anything about the salary rates inside. I know you have got better superannuation and those sorts of entitlements within the forces.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The base salary for a major equivalent, which is a squadron leader in the air force, is $49,136 and to that is added a service allowance which gives a total component remuneration of $55,055. Now the figure that I recall--where the difference was in the external employment--was $21,000-odd. It was in that order. On top of those.

Senator MARGETTS --What about the updated situation?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --When you say updated situation, what are you referring to, Senator?

Senator MARGETTS --I asked last year as well.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --No change.

Senator MARGETTS --What are the continuing obstacles to such an activity occurring?

Vice Adm. Walls --I think my answer to that would be that it is government policy.

Senator MARGETTS --Not military policies?

Vice Adm. Walls --Military policy would be part of the advice that government would seek in making the policy itself.

Senator MARGETTS --When was the last review of compensation levels for the ADF?

Vice Adm. Walls --Can you be more specific? We have a particular review under way at the moment. You might recall that was announced recently by Minister Bishop.

Senator MARGETTS --Will the government be reviewing levels as to their consistency with compensation levels available to civilians for death or injury?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --With the forthcoming review which is scheduled the aim will be to examine all the elements of the payments. The ones which are made in civil industry or civil circumstances will no doubt be taken account of, or would be examined within that review.

Senator MARGETTS --With the increasing civilianisation of the ADF under the commercial support program, are the civilian personnel covered under the military compensation scheme or any other private insurance arrangement?

Vice Adm. Walls --As I understand it, they are covered under the civilian compensation arrangements and contractual arrangements which they make with the contractors under the terms of the commercial support program.

Senator MARGETTS --Do you know how those levels of compensation payments may compare to the current compensation payments available to military personnel?

Vice Adm. Walls --No, I could not respond to that but I would draw attention to the answer that Air Vice Marshal Cox just gave, that is, that these sorts of ideas, elements and so on, are incorporated in the review that has recently been announced.

Senator MARGETTS --When is that review due to report?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I would like to invite comment from the First Assistant Secretary, Human Resources and Management, whose portfolio it is more immediately under.

Mr Gourley --On your earlier question about the levels of compensation as between the civilian and military schemes, the new military compensation scheme is covered under the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. There are elements of commonality in some respects between the military and civilian schemes. Some of those are legislated. For example, the death benefit level I think is the same in both schemes, but there are in the military certain other elements of difference.

Senator MARGETTS --It is possible for a civilian to sue their employer for compensation?

Mr Gourley --In some circumstances, although in the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act there are some restrictions on common law rights, but there are avenues in certain circumstances where common law action can be taken.

Senator MARGETTS --So being subject to that act, they are not able to sue for compensation?

Mr Gourley --In some circumstances they are not, but in others they are.

Senator MARGETTS --And if you bring civilians into that, they will also be perhaps unable to sue for compensation if such arose?

Mr Gourley --The general provisions in the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act in relation to common law apply both to the military and to civilian elements. As far as the timing of the review that the minister has announced is concerned, I am really not in a position to be specific about that but I understand that she will be making an announcement on that matter very shortly.

Senator MARGETTS --Do we have the terms of reference for that review?

Mr Gourley --I understand that that will be included as part of her announcement of the review.

Senator MARGETTS --What has been the level of compensation for families of the victims of the Black Hawk crash?

Mr Gourley --In relation to the dependants of those people who were killed in the Black Hawk crash, there is a lump sum payment made of $166,441 plus a weekly payment of $55.47 for each dependent child under the age of 25 years. There are certain other ancillary payments that also may be paid that relate to funeral expenses and so on. The payments in respect of those people who are injured depends upon an assessment of the type and extent of injury, so that differs in each of those cases.

Senator MARGETTS --And it ranges up to what?

Mr Gourley --The maximum payment that could be made is reasonably close to the death benefit level payment. In fact, $152,571 is the maximum lump sum payment that can be made under that legislation. In addition, there are the ordinary superannuation benefit payments that are made to the dependents of those who were killed in that accident.

Senator MARGETTS --Those payments seem very low in terms of civilian counterparts, I would think.

Mr Gourley --Those levels of lump sum payment are the same as the levels that would be paid--

Senator MARGETTS --In that legislation, I understand that.

Mr Gourley --The levels of payment are the same as those that would apply to all Commonwealth employees.

Senator MARGETTS --But they seem to be moving further and further away from what is able to be gained under civil action?

Mr Gourley --Certainly, in some actions that have been taken in courts in relation to other incidents, payments have been at a higher level than that. That is correct.

Senator MARGETTS --I would like to ask a question about the abolition of the ready reserves. Could someone give me the rationale for the abolition of the ready reserves?

Senator Newman --That was the government's policy announced in the last election.

Senator MARGETTS --Is there a rationale for that?

Senator Newman --The government took a decision that it was a fairly expensive way of getting a force which was not as ready as we would have liked. In simple terms, that sums it up.

Senator WEST --Can I follow that one on. What discussions and consultations took place between the government and the ADF about the abolition of the ready reserve?

Senator Newman --Are you talking prior to the election when we were--

Senator WEST --No, I am talking post-March 1996.

Senator Newman --The government's policy was clear when we came into government, and we wanted our policy implemented. The Admiral may be able to help you as to what happened in the portfolio after the election, I cannot.

Vice Adm. Walls --As a result of the government policy decision, we reviewed how we would implement that within army, navy and air force. In effect, the process was simple for navy. Navy has now closed down its ready reserves and has made adjustments which take account of that. People have been offered alternatives on how they can perform their service. Air force is in a terminal situation with the closing down of the ready reserve, and that is proceeding smoothly. I expect army to have completed the process by next year. Arrangements have been made for developing alternative capabilities and alternatives for people to serve. For example, I could provide details, if I got into the brief, on transfers into the regular army, those who have gone across to general reserve and active reserve appointments. From memory, I think there is only 11 per cent who have chosen to take a discharge.

Senator WEST --I do not know why they should have either.

Vice Adm. Walls --The great majority, as the senator points out, have transferred their arrangement of service. The point I make is that the army was the principal user of the ready reserve, and the army has alternative arrangements in place.

Senator WEST --I am just trying to think how to ask the next question without asking you to comment on policy advice you might have tendered.

CHAIR --Is this still on the ready reserve?

Senator WEST --It is still on the ready reserve. I think I will follow this up on the individual services.

CHAIR --Senator Margetts, would you like to continue your line of questioning?

Senator MARGETTS --That is all I have on personnel.

CHAIR --I understand there are some questions to my left on personnel.

Senator FORSHAW --I would like to ask some questions about the Defence Housing Authority. Can you tell me how many members of the forces are occupying housing that has been developed jointly by the DHA and the private developer at Wattle Grove?

Vice Adm. Walls --I will have to get expert advice on that. I believe the information is probably available.

Mr David --There are 2,400 houses in the estate as a whole; there are 800 defence families living in houses there.

Senator FORSHAW --That is the Wattle Grove estate, is it?

Mr David --That is the Wattle Grove estate.

Senator FORSHAW --Are they all sold, all 2,400 blocks?

Mr David --No, from recollection there are still some. I do not have the exact number, but I think there are about 400 left in the estate. Some are to be developed, some have been developed and are waiting for sale.

Senator FORSHAW --The Voyager Point development, is that part of that 2,400 or is that an additional area of land?

Mr David --Voyager Point will be an additional 300 allotments, of which 100 will be taken by the authority.

Senator FORSHAW --Can you elaborate on any other planned developments in this joint venture that is going on in and around the Holsworthy base?

Mr David --I am not sure in what way you want me to elaborate. That is the extent of the development as we see it now. We have had some other minor developments in South Holsworthy and the selling off of the older houses in Holsworthy Village, but that is about the extent of our development.

Senator FORSHAW --Was the Defence Housing Authority aware of the decision announced on 20 May by the minister for transport that Holsworthy would be included as a potential site for Sydney's second airport?

Mr David --To my knowledge, the authority was not aware but we would not have expected to be aware. We were in a commercial joint venture with another party. We were not aware, to my knowledge.

Senator FORSHAW --Why wouldn't you have expected to be aware? Are you going to be in the dark like the rest of the community, or was there some more specific reason as to why you should not have been aware?

Mr David --My answer is based on the fact that I expect we would be treated as a joint venture partner with a commercial operator. If the commercial operator was not given access to that information, I would expect that we would be given the same status.

Senator FORSHAW --So you were not consulted?

Mr David --No.

Senator FORSHAW --Have you been consulted at any time about the potential for Holsworthy to be a possible airport site--say, in the last year or so?

Mr David --Since the announcement we have been discussing the issue with officers from the Facilities and Property Division within Defence, but we were not consulted prior to the decision. As I said, we would not have expected to be so.

Senator FORSHAW --Have you considered what impact firstly the announcement and secondly, in the longer term, the development of an airport would have upon the investment, upon the land values of the development?

Mr David --Quite naturally, that is an issue that we have been looking at. Until the environmental impact study is done, I am not sure that we can do much more than consider our options. We are continuing to sell allotments at the Wattle Grove site and we are putting a very strong qualifier on any sales that we are making to let people know that there is an airport under consideration, to let any buyer be aware of that issue. So from the point of view of public awareness, we are being very careful and cautious in that. But in terms of the impact on the joint venture, like other property owners in the area, I guess we are taking the line that we will have to wait for the outcome of the EIS.

Senator FORSHAW --Who is responsible for the advertisements that appear in local and Sydney newspapers with respect to the sale of Wattle Grove land?

Mr David --In terms of our allotment?

Senator FORSHAW --Well, yes, but does your authority have any role in the placing of the advertisements that appear in local newspapers and on billboards in the area advertising the land?

Mr David --The joint venture through its project management company, Delfin Management Services, is directly responsible for all activity associated with marketing of the joint venture. The authority's involvement would be through the joint venture management committee. There is a joint venture management committee which comprises Delfin and ourselves; so we would have an involvement there, yes.

Senator FORSHAW --And you are quite sure that, with respect to all advertising, for instance, since the decision was announced, that potential interested purchasers are being made aware of the possibility of an airport in that area?

Mr David --My point was that, at the time of sale, we include the proviso in the contract. I cannot state categorically on the advertising but I could check, if that is your wish.

Senator FORSHAW --I would ask if you would do that.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Can I just interrupt there: from what date have you been included in that proviso?

Mr David --I would have to check but I think it was from any sales after June.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Could you just confirm that for us?

Mr David --Yes.

Senator FORSHAW --Minister, were there any discussions with the Minister for Defence or Defence officials or indeed Defence personnel prior to the minister's announcement of the inclusion of Holsworthy?

Senator Newman --I am afraid that, being the minister representing, I am in a difficult position. I simply do not know the answer to your question. I do not know whether it is something that I should undertake to get. I think the best thing is that, in order to be helpful, I will raise the matter with the minister and see whether it is appropriate that he provide you with an answer. That will have to be his decision.

Senator FORSHAW --Could I then ask whether or not any written advice or submissions from either the Minister for Transport or the Department of Transport with respect to the proposal for the listing of Holsworthy were provided to the Minister for Defence, his senior advisers or departmental officials and, if so, I would request copies of that. I am assuming you will take that back as well.

Senator Newman --I have already hesitated, as you have seen. The reason for that is that I believe that you are asking for privileged information which will probably be refused.

Senator FORSHAW --I will just spell out the additional things that I would like to know. I would like to know what advice went from the Minister for Defence or his advisers or the departmental officials--possibly representatives of the forces can answer this part of it--and went back to the Minister for Transport and the department in respect to this proposal. Was there any objection raised prior to the listing of the site?

Vice Adm. Walls --I think you are into a realm of policy there where I would not feel empowered to speak.

CHAIR --Perhaps if the minister takes that up with the relevant minister and you will get an answer in due course, Senator.

Senator FORSHAW --Can I then ask: has the Defence Housing Authority made a submission to the Environment Protection Agency with respect to the EIS for this site?

Mr David --We are involved, Senator, with the EIS study and we will be making a submission but it will be Delfin making the submission on behalf of the Defence Housing Authority.

Senator FORSHAW --Will there be input from the department or from the Defence Force executive with respect to that submission?

Vice Adm. Walls --Not to the Delfin submission but in accordance with the normal practices for an environmental impact statement where it impacts on Defence. If I could put it this way: if it was Defence land we would naturally expect to participate in the process.

Senator FORSHAW --Can you tell me what impact this will have on the current position with respect to housing that is now utilised by Defence personnel in this area?

Vice Adm. Walls --No, and I think that is a question that probably deserves expert advice but, if I could make the observation, I do not believe there is a direct answer to it because at this stage it is not clear what the transport proposal might be. As I understand it, the analysis and valuation of what the options might be are still under way.

Senator FORSHAW --That might be something that we might get answered in another committee, but we will wait and see.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Could I ask what the level of investment by Defence service homes is in Wattle Grove?

Mr David --There are some 2,400 allotments in Wattle Grove. We have got about 800 of them.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --What does that represent in terms of financial investment by the Defence service homes?

Mr David --I have not got that here but I could pass that on, Senator.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --So do I take it you still own all 800 of those properties that house service families?

Mr David --The majority of them would be owned--some have been included in sale and lease back arrangements in the past where we have sold it to a private investor and leased the property back. But the majority are owned by us.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Are any of them owned by those service families or are there any of them buying the properties from you?

Mr David --Senator, the Defence Housing Authority would not have details of private ownership of Defence families. We own the houses and rent them to the Department of Defence.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --But there is no facility for special treatment or priority treatment for Defence service personnel to purchase those homes--they just purchase them on the open market, do they?

Mr David --That is correct.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --And you mentioned that you have included this disclaimer from a date you think, perhaps, in June--and you are going to give us the specific day. What impact has the disclaimer had in terms of sales and prices? I know you cannot attribute that solely to the disclaimer, but has there been any change in the pattern of sales or prices received for properties?

Mr David --Senator, there was an initial impact, as you would imagine, immediately after the announcement but there has been a pick-up. But we have had a revised budget put in for the joint venture until the EIS has been resolved. So, yes, there has been an impact.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --What do you mean by a revised budget, Mr David?--

Mr David --We have reduced our expectations on the number of sales.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --What sort of difference has that meant?

Mr David --I am afraid I do not have that detail with me but I can bring that forward if you like. I would mention, though, I would need to check on the commercial sensitivity of that information when deciding how I would bring it forward.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --What about in terms of sale prices? Obviously that would be a matter of public record as to what the properties have been sold for.

Mr David --To my knowledge there has been no change in the sale prices. In fact the joint venture has held the line in the past as now that they will not discount prices and we have not had to do that.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --So, the major impact has been in terms of the speed at which the lots have been taken up.

Mr David --Rates of sale.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --So you have a policy that basically says you want a certain price for the land and you will hold onto it within reason until someone meets that price. Is that the sort of approach?

Mr David --That has been the joint venture's marketing strategy in the past, yes.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --That obviously might have some cost implications for you, though.

Mr David --I am afraid I am not in a position to answer that.

CHAIR --Senator Evans, this is a new line of questioning. I would like to allow Senator Forshaw to finish his.

Senator FORSHAW --I was happy for Senator Evans to keep going; he was covering some of the areas that I was going to ask. Since the announcement, have you had purchasers seek to get out of the contract, on the basis that they may have entered into a contract for purchase just prior to the announcement, and have been unaware of the proposal? What would your attitude to be that?

Mr David --Immediately following the announcement, there were some lost sales. To date, we have not had a huge withdrawal of sales, or requests to negate contracts.

Senator FORSHAW --In the draft annual report of the Defence Housing Authority at page 32, there is a statement that the government's announcement has major implications for Wattle Grove, which is in proximity to the site under study.

Are you able to say what is meant by `major implications'?

Mr David --We do not know what the footprint of the development will be yet, but if it were to affect the entire site, there could be major implications. Until the study is done, we are not in a position to be specific but, certainly, the announcement could have major implications for us.

Senator FORSHAW --Could it, for instance, mean that the Voyager Point development would be pretty much a failure?

Mr David --I am not in a position to fully respond to that, but I would say that, in general terms, until the EIS is completed and the scope of the development is known, we would not be making that decision.

Senator FORSHAW --Have you had expressions of concern expressed to you from Delfin?

Mr David --I am not part of the joint venture management committee, but I would expect that Delfin would have registered some concerns; but I can confirm that, if you wish.

Senator FORSHAW --If you would not mind.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --While Senator Forshaw is catching his breath, Mr David, could I ask this? Would most of the 800 service families be based at Holsworthy, or would they be from a range of different--

Mr David --The majority of them would be from Holsworthy, but we have had interest from some navy families coming from the city moving out to both Holsworthy and Wattle Grove, but they would be predominantly army families.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --So the vast majority would be families with a member of the family based at Holsworthy.

Mr David --Holsworthy, Ingleburn and those sorts of areas.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --You have got to forgive me: I am from Perth, and my Sydney geography is not great.

Senator FORSHAW --Could I ask a question, Minister? You may wish to take this on notice, but could you indicate whether or not you or the minister have been approached by a company called Lawrence Hargrave Project Pty Ltd with respect to the development of the Holsworthy site as Sydney's second airport?

Senator Newman --I am not in a position to give you an answer on that, Senator. I can see whether the Minister for Defence is prepared to give you an answer on that.

Senator FORSHAW --If you would. I would also ask that you respond in respect of whether formal, written proposals were supplied by the company to the minister and, if so, whether they could be provided to the committee.

Senator Newman --I can ask. I am not in a position to know what sort of communication the minister has had with anybody, so I can only refer your request on.

Senator FORSHAW --In case there is some confusion over the name Lawrence Hargrave Project Pty Ltd, I ask that same question in respect of LH Project Pty Ltd and also in respect of a company known as Bonpara Pty Ltd.

Senator Newman --Yes.

Senator FORSHAW --I ask the representative from the Defence Housing Authority the same questions. Is DHA aware of Lawrence Hargrave Project Pty Ltd and has it had approaches from them?

Mr David --I am not aware of that company, nor of any approaches, but I will check that out.

Senator FORSHAW --Thank you very much. I think that takes care of the questions I had--at this stage of the program at least.

Senator HOGG --I would like to refer to page 66 of the PBS for an explanation. Table A, under 1.3, refers to personnel in the permanent force and it gives a 1996-97 budget, and a 1995-96 actual, figure. There is a substantial decrease in the permanent force. Further down that column under 1.3, it relates the average salary cost. Under the permanent force the average salary cost goes from $39,115 actual in 1995-96 to nearly $61,080 in 1996-97. Is there an explanation for that?

Mr Hannan --I could comment on the first figure. The right-hand side of the table shows that in fact there has not been the substantial reduction you are referring to. It reflects a restructuring, within the program, of the subprograms in which individuals are actually employed, so it is a structural change that that reflects.

Senator HOGG --Right. Does that imply then that there are more highly paid executive people in the 1.3 area of the program, and that the people that are taken out of that 1.3 program and put into the 1.5 program are necessarily not the executive category of employee? If so, what is the impact on the two programs with the transfer of staff?

Vice Adm. Walls --There is a quick answer. Page 65 shows the 1996-97 budget and the change in the numbers of personnel, in comparison with the figures underneath. The restructuring that Mr Hannan just referred to took out the Defence Force Academy from 1.3, so the difference in figures is essentially a substantive change in salaries, taking out the cadets from the Academy and using the numbers that are left. I can provide you with more detail, but that is the quick and simple answer.

Senator HOGG --No need. That is satisfactory. It was pretty obvious that there was something strange there.

Vice Adm. Walls --We are talking about roughly 2,000 people there.

Senator HOGG --On the same page, it talks about a reduction in all subprograms in 1996-97 for the 3 per cent superannuation benefit. In particular, in 1.3 it is a $0.465 million reduction. Why has that occurred? Pardon my ignorance on this.

Mr Hannan --The reduction in 3 per cent super reflects the overall reduction in personnel numbers.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --I was going to ask a range of super questions. There seem to have been some changes made generally, both in last year's budget and this year's budget, in terms of a 3 per cent superannuation impact. I presumed it was provisions for the co-payment system. I have a series of questions about superannuation.

Senator HOGG --That was what I was next going to lead to.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Are we at cross purposes?

Mr Hannan --I do not think it is cross purposes. I will check that the answer I gave is correct, and I will provide the information.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --I do not mean to jump forward, Madam Chair, but page 109 has an explanation, in the army area, as to each of the subprograms. I was not sure whether we ought to have a discussion on superannuation in this section, or take it section by section as we go through the various arms, but that seems to imply a more substantial change in terms of superannuation than just a reduction in staff numbers impact.

Vice Adm. Walls --I suggest we take superannuation under the budget and management program.

CHAIR --Yes, that is fine. We can leave it until then.

Senator HOGG --That is fine. I will refer you to table B, because there are some anomalies there in terms of wages and super, as well, which I will come back to then.

CHAIR --Senator Hogg, do you have any more questions apart from superannuation?

Senator HOGG --No.

Senator MacGIBBON --On page 69, under this personnel category, they talk about `folding in' leave loading for ADF personnel. We have not used that phrase before, have we, in these estimates? What do you mean by `folding in' leave loading for ADF personnel?

Vice Adm. Walls --I beg your pardon, Senator. Let me go back to the leave loading that was given in previous years. Under the changes to the workplace bargaining agreements and so on that occurred in the Public Service in the past year, we have recently made provision in the Defence Force to in effect transfer, as opposed to `fold in', to their salary what used to be paid as a leave bonus to people when they proceeded on their annual leave. One of the perceived benefits of that for the individual is that it increases their salary for superannuation purposes.

Senator MacGIBBON --I see. Thank you.

Senator HOGG --Senator MacGibbon drew my attention to this. Just under that issue of folding in the leave loading, there is an increased provision for accommodation and salary related allowances at $2.552 million: could I have some break-up of that, please?

Vice Adm. Walls --The explanation that I have got in my briefing notes tells me that that is an increased provision for temporary rental assistance and temporary accommodation allowances and similarly related allowances--for example, a living out allowance--which are attributed to the forces executive program by the individual service programs. The explanation of the attribution process is, of course, in the earlier introductory notes to the PBS. In essence, it is a transfer of money for a bill that we pay on behalf of others.

Senator WEST --I wanted to go back and pick up on some things that Senator MacGibbon had asked in relation to recruiting and also exit interviews. Is that your area, Air Vice Marshal Cox? What sort of new initiatives are you looking at in terms of recruiting processes and programs?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Initiatives for recruiting? There is nothing that is terribly new that we have not tried, but we are changing the focus on our recruiting operations. We are focusing very much on the 17- to 24-year-old age group, and we are also focusing on the skills, careers and interests of those particular groups. We have also had new marketing strategies put in place. We have engaged different marketing agencies to try and get a better return on that. We have taken an interest in sporting organisations, to try and get children and young Australians involved in those sorts of areas. They are an indicative range of the measures we have taken and continue to take.

Vice Adm. Walls --From listening to him talk, Madam Chair, I realised that I misled the committee before when I said from memory that we got 84 per cent of recruiting targets; I see from the Defence Recruiting Branch's annual report, which I will be happy to table, that the DFRB was able to achieve 92 per cent of the requirement last year. But, in terms of the answers to the questions that the senators asked, there is a considerable amount of information in this report on resources, marketing, advertising, facilities, targeting, general achievements and the challenges that the recruiting organisation is facing. It has some statistics which members of the committee might find interesting or useful.

CHAIR --Yes; thank you.

Vice Adm. Walls --This is not a report that is required on a statutory basis: it is used for management purposes; but we would be very happy to make it available to the committee.

CHAIR --Please table it for the information of the committee.

Senator WEST --I think you might actually save me some questions there, because I was wanting to follow up the marketing strategy and who the marketing company was and how they were selected, and all of that sort of stuff. Is that in that report?

Vice Adm. Walls --Not in that particular detail; it more addresses outcomes and management issues rather than management processes.

Senator WEST --I am interested in some of the management processes too, but maybe they can come on notice with the report. With respect to some of what you are trying, are you trying the Internet and things like that?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Yes, we are. There is a home page on the Internet, and that is one of the examples we have used. You might recall that there was an announcement relatively recently on trying to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander component of Defence, and there are initiatives hand-in-hand with the department of employment and trade. We are trying to increase the percentage in the defence force through that mechanism. I think we are approaching it by nearly every avenue we can. If you have any good ideas, we will listen to them.

Senator WEST --So the target was 94 per cent, I think, Admiral.

Vice Adm. Walls --Ninety-two per cent, we got last year.

Senator WEST --That is as a result of the new strategies?

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes.

Senator WEST --What is happening with the gender ratio of new recruits?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Madam Chair, I cannot actually give you the figure for new recruit ratios. I can give you them for serving personnel, but I do not have that figure.

Senator WEST --I am interested to know the number of females serving in the three services, but also if we are seeing an increase in the number of females being recruited or expressing an interest in recruitment.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --My understanding is that it is fairly static. In some of the categories where we were expecting large increases--for example, pilots, when we freed up pilot training to females--the numbers have not increased much at all. In fact, I think the numbers who have applied for that are going down.

Vice Adm. Walls --We can get you precise figures but, just off the top of my head, roughly 13 per cent of the Defence Force are women. The numbers in officer ranks are, in fact, increasing and the recruiting intakes to the Defence Force Academy numbers of women, for example, in the navy, have increased; but we can provide you with detailed statistics.

Senator WEST --Yes. I am interested to know what is happening in that respect. There seem to be more females around in uniform, when you move around, but I do not know whether that is--

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Madam Chair, I can give you those figures now, if you want those.

CHAIR --Yes, please.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --With effect 30 June 1996, I can give you the breakdown between male and female. In percentage terms at this stage, for navy--Sorry, I have the wrong table there.

Vice Adm. Walls --Page 23 of the draft annual report has a short statement and then the detailed figures.

Mr Hannan --Page 286 and 287 have a triservice rank comparison between 30 June 1995 and 30 June 1996.

Senator WEST --Right. We have only had this since about Friday and it has been a little difficult to get through 300 pages for every department--

Senator Newman --We will forgive you.

Senator WEST --Thank you, Minister. That is okay, then. That has probably answered the question that I wanted to know. Can I now turn to the exit interviews you talked about? This relates to the separation rates of females. Are they not staying on as long as the males? Their length of service in the ADF is shorter than for males, is it not?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --As a general statement, that is true.

Senator WEST --What are the exit interviews showing as the reasons for this being the case?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I do not have any close association with this. It might be wise to ask the single services to comment on this, when they come.

Senator WEST --Okay. That is fine.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --As a general statement, I think we are still seeing that many of the women wish to have families, and they separate at that point. There is some view that they may still not have free access to promotions and things such as that, and that they may be discriminated against. We are studying and have studied that, and we are about to take that step even further to ensure that there is no inhibiting factor in either a directly or indirectly discriminatory way to further progression of the female members of the ADF. That study and the work that is being done are contemporary, and they are going on right now.

Senator WEST --Are there no pieces of paper yet for us to look at and analyse the results of?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --No; not from that particular initiative.

Senator WEST --Okay. I guess that is fair warning to ACPERS-A,--N and--RAAF that I will ask that question when their turns come. You answered some questions for Senator MacGibbon on harassment. I am also interested, when you are looking at the categories of who is complaining and where the complaints are, in the numbers not only of service personnel against service personnel harassment, but also an involvement with the Department of Defence civilian personnel. I am not quite sure who would handle civilian-on-civilian harassment, but someone can pick that up as well. I am interested if there are complaints of harassment by service personnel against civilians and vice versa; so can that be in the material that is being obtained for Senator MacGibbon?

Vice Adm. Walls --If I may make a suggestion, you are getting into a realm there where we have relatively detailed information. That would have to be the case, otherwise I could not have given the answer that I did to Senator MacGibbon earlier. It might be useful if we were to give you a specific briefing and provide you with the information that is associated with that. It would involve people from personnel, on the uniform side of the organisation, and probably from FAS HR&M from the Deputy Secretary's B&Ms program. We would be pleased to respond to your questions.

Senator WEST --That is probably a good idea, because I want to look very closely at two years down the track from HMAS Swan, because this is an issue that goes back to then. I want to know what each one--

Vice Adm. Walls --My appreciation of the data that we record in the organisation and the analysis and use that we make of that data is that we would be able to respond to your questions.

Senator WEST --Right. I am also interested in knowing what investigations are being undertaken and whether the format of the investigations has changed in the past couple of years.

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes.

Senator WEST --If there have been any complaints, how are they being resolved and how many are actually being referred to HREOC, as opposed to disciplinary action within the ADF? I would be interested in the results of some of those, too; so I will leave that particular issue.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Can I just clarify one point, on referral to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission? You would be aware that we do not do that.

Senator WEST --No. That is not what I meant. How many people are self-referring to the commission? It is a self-referral.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I can tell you how many people are presently on active cases with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Vice Adm. Walls --It would be more appropriate if we gave a comprehensive briefing and then responded to the detail.

Senator WEST --I think so.

CHAIR --Senator, I would draw your attention to the time. I do propose to call a meal break at 6.30 p.m. and, if possible, I would like to finish subprogram 1.3 by that stage.

Senator WEST --I will do my best. I now turn to issues of family support and support within the personnel. On page 43 of the draft report you talk about the defence community organisation--which has become purple, after being three lots of different colours--incorporating Navy personnel, CPSOs, the army community services and RAAF social workers information service. I presume that the information service means what used to be FIND.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --FIND has been absorbed into that.

Senator WEST --The RDLOs and FLOs would appear to have all gone into that, as well.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Correct.

Senator WEST --How has the single service structure worked? Is it working okay? Have there been any teething problems?

Vice Adm. Walls --It is a joint organisation. It is probably fair to say that around the country it is dependent to a particular degree on the leadership and management of the service organisations in a location--for example, Adelaide, Darwin or wherever it happens to be--and on the way the staff have been enthused about coming together. It is fair to say that, in the main, it is working quite effectively. There have indeed been some teething problems. In some areas, for example, there has been resistance to change. Some of the DCO type of organisations in some areas have not necessarily readily moved into this integrated joint delivery of services arrangement.

I am of the view that most of the teething problems have been overcome. But we still do have leadership and management difficulties, challenges to smooth out. I am quite sure that some areas are more effective than others. We are trying to lift the overall standard of the whole organisation. I think there are encouraging signs and trends in that. We are also trying to get the excellence even better in some particular areas.

Senator WEST --Where there are problems, are they coming not from within the DCOs but from base personnel not quite sure how to react or respond to individuals?

Vice Adm. Walls --There have certainly been some of those cases; there is no doubt about that. Now that it has been running for 2 1/2 months, most of those have gone away. But we still do have incidences of that.

Senator WEST --How is it working within the DCOs themselves? I would understand from some of the areas, such as the social work areas, that the three social work divisions in the previous force structure all worked using extremely different methods of operation. How are you actually--

Vice Adm. Walls --That is part of that leadership and management challenge stuff that I was talking about in getting people to work to similar sorts of arrangements. I think one of the things that we have to recognise in this defence community organisation is that there are still differences in terms of need for different elements of the defence community--navy, army and air force. We have to enable, within the defence community organisation, those differences of need to be properly serviced.

So there is not, for example, a push to standardise everything or to have specific check lists for how we deal with each particular case or circumstance that arises on an ADF-wide basis. There has to be an element of individuality in it. Nonetheless, if we are to get the efficiencies and the improvements in the services that we provide, then we do have to have that team approach from all the workers involved, and the social workers in particular. My perception is that the great majority of the social workers--I am talking here in excess of 80 per cent of them, as I understand it--are comfortable with the new arrangements and see the worth in doing it. There are still a few who have some difficulties, though.

Senator WEST --I am not being critical of the DCO; I think it is probably a very good way to be going. Are you going to evaluate it at some stage?

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes, indeed. We are going to put it in place for a year, though, before we run the roller over it.

Senator WEST --How popular is what used to be FIND these days? Are you still getting lots of telephone calls?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The FIND is a very successful facility, and it is being used a lot. I do not have the actual numbers of occurrences but I know it is still up where it used to be. Each time it just ebbs and flows as there is a new initiative or a new interest. It is an excellent point of contact for people and a vast array of people use it--not only serving members but also their spouses and families. It is very successful.

Senator WEST --It was initially set up and called the Family Information Network for Defence.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Yes, that is the acronym.

Senator WEST --If you could take this on notice and just get me some idea of the figures per year and some of the major areas of concern or issues that have been brought to attention through FIND, I would appreciate that.

You also say that during the year another child-care centre was opened bringing the total number of Defence child-care centres to 13 and the available child-care places to 540. Where was it? In fact, I would like a list of where all the child-care centres are. You can take that on notice.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I know where they are but I am not sure which was the last one.

Senator WEST --I am happy to have that on notice; I am conscious of the time. You also say, `A review of the Defence child-care program is under way and will examine the best options for meeting Defence's future child-care needs.' Who is undertaking that review?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --We utilise the services of a reserve officer to come in and do that for us in conjunction with the specialists on the DCO staff that are available for consultation. That report is to hand, and it is being staffed through the Defence Personnel Committee in the next meeting, I think it is.

Senator WEST --I would love a copy of that too, if I could get it at some stage. I would like to know what you are going to do at the end of it, what the findings are.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --That is to be discussed at the Defence Personnel Committee.

Senator WEST --That is very exciting. You also say that the family support funding program was allocated a further 602,510 family support projects. I would not mind a list of those projects--again, it can come on notice--from the family support funding program. Can I also move quickly to the provision of employment and jobsearch assistance for defence spouses, which was facilitated by a spouse employment program trialled in six selected areas around Australia. Has that trial completed?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Yes, the trial has completed and, as a result of that trial, we will be moving into an expanded spouse employment program.

Senator WEST --Where was the trial--

Vice Adm. Walls --We got good results out of that, very encouraging results out of it.

Senator WEST --It has been an issue for a number of years hasn't it? We have fought that one for a number of years.

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes. It has reached such a result that we are pretty enthused about what we can do with it now.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --I see you have allocated $1 million for that. What is that going to be spent on?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --We are going to use a facilitator through a commercial entity to provide an employment referral service which will be used by spouses. So if a spouse moves to a particular area, the availability of jobs will be known and the service can match the job availability with the particular skills of the person seeking the employment.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --So the $1 million is dedicated to a contract with a private employment service or a range of services?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --At this stage we are soliciting options. We do not have it firmed up. We are contemplating what we might be able to do, and that is what the exercise is to see how best we can optimise employment opportunities for service spouses.

CHAIR --I would like to request that further questions in this section be put on notice so that when we return in an hour's time we can begin on sub-program 1.4.

Senator WEST --Well, on child care I wanted to ask about operational subsidies.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --I have got a series of questions on the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. I do not know whether you want to deal with them under sub-program 1.3 or not. I have probably five or six minutes on that, Madam Chair. I was going to seek advice from the Vice Admiral as to whether that was the right time to raise them or not.

Vice Adm. Walls --Which tribunal?

Senator CHRIS EVANS --I have some questions on the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal and a couple of related questions. I am not sure whether this is the right program to raise them on or not.

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes, it is.

CHAIR --I do wish to allow a proper break for the minister and for those officers who are appearing which would give us one hour. Do you have a lot more questions, Senator West?

Senator WEST --I do not have a great number but I have got probably five or six minutes worth.

CHAIR --What about you, Senator Evans?

Senator CHRIS EVANS --I think there is about five minutes on the remuneration tribunal stuff. It is up to you.

CHAIR --If you each have five minutes then we will adjourn at twenty to seven.

Senator WEST --Thank you. Operational subsidies for child-care centres: do you get paid operational subsidies?

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes, we do.

Senator WEST --What is going to be the impact of the abolition of operational child-care subsidies for community based--

Vice Adm. Walls --I do not think it is quite as simple as that. Do you want to pick up on this one?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --No, it is not simple. This can relate, of course, to the interface between the members of the ADF and any child-care centres which might be available in the community. How that would relate is probably going to do with family income streams and the like, and we cannot make an assessment on that.

Senator WEST --No, but you have 13 centres of your own. Of those 13 child-care centres that you have got, do you get an operational subsidy?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --We make an allocation on the numbers: $1,000 per head is the operational subsidy which is provided to the ADF child-care centre.

Senator WEST --The ADF pays it; it is not paid through Family Services and Health.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Correct.

Senator WEST --You are going to continue that payment?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --As far as I know we are.

Vice Adm. Walls --We might have to look, though, at how we actually delivered the services in time to come.

Senator WEST --Family day care centres, do you have any of those going yet?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The family day care centres--

Senator Newman --The schemes, you mean?

Senator WEST --Schemes, yes.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --I will just have to ask for some amplification.

Senator WEST --Family day care is another alternative to long day care and child care.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --This is taking children into the homes?

Senator WEST --Yes.

Air Vice Marshal Cox --A lot of that happens but we have not got it formalised.

Senator WEST --You are going to do something about getting it formalised, are you not?

Vice Adm. Walls --I would not say we have a feeling of unease. But we have a feeling of concern that, if you look at 13 centres, it really is not enough to cover the totality of what we need to look at. We are finding that, if we project it forward, it is too expensive to keep on doing things that way. When I made the remark earlier that we were going to have to examine how we delivered the services, the latter question that you are asking relates to that. But we have not firmed up any ideas yet on how we might look at that.

Senator WEST --As I recall, there were some problems legally some time ago about the use of rented accommodations, weren't there?

Senator Newman --There were, Senator. My recollection is probably just as vague as yours, but I thought they solved it.

Senator WEST --That was what I was thinking--that it had been solved.

Senator Newman --My recollection was that it was several years ago that they solved it and that, at least on one base, there had been part of a family day-care scheme operating. It may have been a local government one that used carers on the base.

Senator WEST --Maybe I can leave that with the Admiral and the Air Vice Marshal to come back to us with some details about family day care that is operating on bases. Yes, I have the same recollection as you have, Minister.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --My question is probably to the minister. I understand, Minister, that there is an intention to create a defence force advocate. Can you advise me whether that has been proceeded with?

Senator Newman - I will have to get advice from the officials.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --As it is a policy question, I thought it might--

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Just to pick up on the words, it is not my understanding that we are going to be training a defence force advocate. I think what you might be referring to is the appointment of a defence personnel advocate.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Yes, I think we are talking about the same thing.

Senator Newman --Is this to have a permanent one, rather than one on contract?

Senator CHRIS EVANS --I understand the government was going to appoint an advocate to advocate cases on behalf of Defence personnel before the remuneration tribunal. I was just wondering whether that had been proceeded with or--

Air Vice Marshal Cox --It is an initiative with the government and obviously I am not going to be able to go too far on that. Suffice to say we are examining the role a defence personnel advocate might play.

Vice Adm. Walls --We do have a defence force advocate in place who participates in the processes of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, as has been the practice for the last few years now. We are examining, in a policy sense, and providing advice on a policy issue to government on what might happen about the personnel advocate.

Senator Newman --That has been a barrister that has come in as and when needed.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Minister, I directed it towards you because it was an election commitment.

Senator Newman --I am sorry. I did not know what had happened in the last six months.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --That was why I was trying to get the direction correct. Are you aware as to what the government's view is about the appointment of that defence force personnel advocate?

Senator Newman --No, I am six months out of date and I can only say that the intention in the proposals in our policy was to reduce delays in the remuneration tribunal system by having somebody more readily available most of the time, or all of the time. That was the thinking behind it. I do not know what the department is working on now.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Perhaps you could take it on notice, Minister. If you can get the information as to what the Defence Minister is planning in that regard, what process of consultation is to occur, what role this person will have and how they will interact with the Defence Force generally, I would appreciate that.

The other thing I want to raise relates to the recommendations of the Glenn review to provide a greater choice of living arrangements for members without family. Has any progress had been made on implementing those recommendations?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The flexibility of accommodation for members with and without family is being examined in a very comprehensive study which has now been going on for just over 12 months. It is called the housing and accommodation policy review and that study is due for completion towards the end of this year. It is addressing, as one of its considerations, the forms and availability of accommodation for members both with and without family.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --So you are reviewing the Glenn review recommendations, are you?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --The Glenn review made some references to what they believed was a desirable outcome, but they were recommendations and the whole thing needs to be fleshed out. That is what we are doing.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Is the question of the splitting of rations and quarters included in that?

Air Vice Marshal Cox --Yes it is.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Can you outline for me what the timetable for that report is likely to be and then the implementation.

Vice Adm. Walls --We expect it to get to the Defence Personnel Committee by the end of this year. There has been quite a lot of work done. For example, the Defence Personnel Committee recently considered some recommendations on rations and quarters. It is a progressive and complex development and we have not pulled it all together yet. The committee has been oversighting the work that has been done by the review team, and they have given them some new directions.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Do I take it then that we are unlikely to see changes in that area in the 1996-97 financial year?

Vice Adm. Walls --Certainly. The financial implications of this could be significant.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --So it is more likely to be an item for submission for next financial year's budget.

Vice Adm. Walls --Yes.

Senator CHRIS EVANS --Thank you.

CHAIR --We will begin again at 7.40 p.m. with subprogram 1.4--policy and strategic guidance.

Sitting suspended from 6.37 to 7.40 p.m.

CHAIR --Is it the wish of the committee that Senator Margetts's questions be incorporated in the Hansard? There being no objection, it is so ordered.

[The questions appear at the conclusion of today's proceedings]

CHAIR --Minister, you have something to incorporate?

Senator Newman --I have two responses to questions that I took on notice earlier. They were both Senator Forshaw's.

CHAIR --Is it the wish of the committee that the responses be incorporated? There being no objection, it is so ordered.

[The answers to questions appear at the conclusion of today's proceedings]

CHAIR --We will move on to subprogram 1.4.