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Thursday, 17 May 1973
Page: 2259

Mr BONNETT (HERBERT, QUEENSLAND) - I ask the Minister for Defence whether there is any truth in a statement which was made in the news this morning that it is possible that the Citizen Military Forces will be disbanded.

Mr BARNARD - The honourable member is well aware, of course, that I have initiated a committee of inquiry into the Citizen Military Forces of this country. This is an inquiry which I believe was sought by some of my predecessors but upon which there could never be agreement by the previous Government. So the committee has been established by this Government. This highly competent committee has very wide terms of reference and is headed by, I believe, a very distinguished Australian who is competent to investigate the whole of the ramifications of the CMF. The statement that appeared in the Press this morning was issued by Dr Millar, the Chairman of the committee. The statement was shown to me by the Chairman before he made it available to the Press of this country. It is quite clear that, within the terms of reference, he wants everyone in this country who has some interest in the CMF - those who are connected with the Australian forces in any way at all, whether in a military capacity or a civilian capacity - to have the opportunity to express freely his views concerning the future of the CMF. In this context I believe that the Chairman was quite correct when he indicated that there undoubtedly would be put to him some propositions or indications by some people that it may not be necessary to have a CMF in Australia at all, and that in line with all other submissions this would have to be considered on its merits.

It is quite clear from the terms of reference - and I am sure that I am able to speak for the committee as a whole at this stage - that there would be no intention to disband the CMF since it is the policy of this Government to build up in Australia a Citizen Military Force that will be efficient and that will provide support for the Australian regular forces. But the Chairman of the committee, in the context that people are entitled to make a submission to him, naturally would consider a submission which suggested that the CMF should be disbanded. This submission would be taken into consideration along with all other submissions. I am satisfied that as a result of the deliberations of the committee and the report that will eventually be made available to this Parliament the Citizen Military Forces in Australia will be given the status which I believe it ought to have in this country in terms of our defence requirements for the 1970s, the 1980s and beyond.

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