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Monday, 12 November 1973
Page: 3096

Dr FORBES (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. May I say, by way of preface, how pleasant it is to see him back so quickly in his place in the House and looking so fit. I refer to reports that the Government is likely to appoint a civil servant as defence ombudsman. Is the Minister aware that there is a widespread distrust - rightly or wrongly - in the Services of the part played by civil servants in matters affecting the welfare of servicemen? Will he give an assurance that this office will not be used as a convenient repository for redundant civil servants? Will he also give an assurance that before any decision is made as to the qualifications required for this office, the Services themselves will be consulted and that their views will be the principal consideration which will guide the Government in the making of an appointment?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - The Government has decided to appoint an ombudsman for the defence Services but at this time no decision concerning an appointee has been made. I can assure the honourable member that when that decision is being taken consideration will be given to the qualifications of the person who is to be appointed. Naturally, this is a matter that will be considered by the Cabinet. When a decision is being made to appoint an ombudsman for the Services not only the views of the servicemen themselves should be considered but naturally - I am sure the honourable member will agree - the views of the Government also are a very important consideration. I assure the honourable member that no decision has been made regarding an appointee but when an ombudsman is appointed I am sure he will be a person who has had considerable experience not only in administration but also within the Services.

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