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Keynote address to the Naval Reserve Symposium 2006: Darling Harbour, Sydney: 7 February 2006.

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TRANSCRIPT The Hon. Sandy Macdonald Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence Deputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate PARLSEC 004/06 Tuesday, 7 February 2006 Senator Sandy Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, gives the keynote address to the Naval Reserve Symposium 2006 SENATOR MACDONALD: It gives me the greatest pleasure to give this keynote address and preview Navy’s integrated and capability-based Naval Reserve for the future at the end of a very full week for the Navy and the ADF here at Darling Harbour. With familiar ease and depth of vision one of the great leaders of the 20th century, Winston Churchill, declared that the reservist is twice the citizen. These simple but thoughtful words communicated the incalculable worth of reserve forces generally. The important aspect about the role of the ADF reservists is that we often get more than we could reasonably expect and I mean that in a positive sense. For every reservist in uniform there is often a highly trained and qualified individual who has developed and maintained skills in the civilian arena and we are very familiar with previously qualified professionals joining the ADF who go on to further develop and ply their trade in the military environment. However, we are increasingly drawing on reservists who develop and maintain their skills primarily outside the ADF to ensure that the ADF has the capacity and the capability to adequately fulfil its role. The Naval Reserve has earned an enviable reputation over many years for professional and sustained operations in peacetime and, of course, in war. This has been very clear to us in Defence and in public circles, in the community at large during the recent high tempo of operations and exercises. Naval Reserve medicos, psychologists, lawyers, intelligence analysts and public relations personnel as well as reservists in more traditional navy roles have been very evident in every operation from the Middle East to the Solomon Islands to Banda Aceh and also in Australian waters in recent times. Service given by the Naval Reserve through either active participation or provided at home bases facilitating release of permanent navy personnel for operations has enabled the navy to sustain the important work that it is doing and is being done. The scope of support is too great to adequately describe today and can be better summed up by saying that without the Naval Reserve the Navy would not be performing as well as it has. Reservists also contribute to their communities. This is the return of investment our communities receive from reservists’ training and experience. The leadership and organisational skills they learn as reservists carry over into the contributions they make to their communities. None of these is peculiar to the military environment but it is the military that develops these skills and its people like no other organisation, as you all know. In Navy the difference between the part-time naval reservist and the permanent navy member is becoming more difficult to distinguish as reservists take on similar roles with identical skill levels. The Naval Reserve today, more than ever before in peacetime, is an integral and essential part of the RAN. The Naval Reserve’s motto is Non Sibi Sed Patriae, not self but country, and the long tradition of part-time citizen naval service in Australia stretches back to the formation of the New South Wales Naval Brigade in 1863, long before the formation of the RAN in 1901.


And the images that you saw in the opening video presentation depict many of the roles undertaken by naval reservists in times of conflict, high operational tempo and in peacetime.

Naval reservists went to the Boxer Rebellion in China, they were part of the landing party that seized German New Guinea in 1943 and at Gallipoli the Naval Reserve provided the naval bridging train, providing an essential service at that time.

The present Naval Reserve was reactivated in January 1950 when national service and part-time training resumed as the Cold War escalated over Korea.

For the next 40 years reservists trained in port divisions which essentially recruited, trained and administered their own personnel with support from the navy depots in which they were lodged. More advanced specialist training was undertaken in navy ships and establishments, seagoing reservists gained a new role and new training vessels to provide additional crews to the attack class patrol boats.

I must say, I was very interested to see the attack class patrol boat that has been at Darling Harbour during the week, to have the chance to see it and, of course, the Fremantle and now the new Armidale class patrol boat. It’s an interesting thing for an amateur to be able to look at and coming from near Armidale I can tell you just what pleasure it gave the City of Armidale to have that new class of patrol boat named after it and I know success has many fathers but I certainly worked very hard to have that done and so it’s a pleasure to have that connection with the new Armidale patrol boat as well, apart from having been to Austal and seen the latest one just about to be ready to be delivered to Navy. It’s a fantastic vessel and I hope that you will enjoy it very much. I’m sure you are.

Reservists were and are still today serving in roles such as bandsmen, divers, stewards, cooks, communicators and stores personnel, in specialist roles within the health services, legal, public relations and the Maritime Trade Organisation and as crews in all classes of ships. They also served in navy ships deployed in the Arabian Gulf during the first Gulf war in 1990-1991.

In 1992 the Naval Reserve underwent its greatest restructuring since 1950. The port divisions were shut down, training craft withdrawn, moving to the development of a total force concept with reserve personnel better integrated into the RAN.

Instead of being a reserve for wartime expansion, the Naval Reserve would now provide greater continuing support in peacetime and a surge capacity in the event of short warning contingencies.

This Naval Reserve Symposium, 2006, marks the next major initiative to provide a measurable increase in capability provided by our Naval Reserve.

Our government is a keen supporter of a highly trained and professional Naval Reserve. Knowing that the Naval Reserve will be on constant call to support operations, it has become apparent that the future Naval Reserve capabilities should be considered and effort focused in areas required.

This led Navy to conduct the Naval Reserve capability review and hence our reason to concentrate on capability today.

The review is now complete and there is a clear distinction between an integrated and capability-based Naval Reserve for the future. A clear direction towards it, I should say.

We are focused on capability and the use of it. One of the fundamental inputs of capability is, of course, people. Navy has a need for people with the right skills to do important jobs and sometimes these people do not - will not be in the permanent navy but rather Naval Reserve members.

I should stress that any new capabilities and opportunities for reservists are in addition to the outstanding that is being done now. The future Naval Reserve will be focused on sea service, support in areas of critical categories, increased use of reservists providing complementary capability and the ability to surge and sustain. It will provide capability managers with more options to achieve aims, enabling ships to remain at sea as well as increase the capability provided by aviation, meteorological, diving and hydrographic teams.

The increase in days associated with the provision of complementary capability will support operations and allow the important shore support work to continue. This aim is ambitious and, more importantly, it is funded. The Navy needs a robust, fully integrated Naval Reserve capable of doing important jobs.

The new concept centres on part-time officers and sailors serving in the RAN’s fleet units and establishments on an equal basis to their full-time counterparts and, as such, we’re seeing, to all intents and purposes, a one navy team and that’s certainly what we must work towards.


Reservists are spread across the full spectrum of RAN activities and there is a better opportunity to provide the best possible return for Navy in performance and capability terms and for the reservists in terms of training and operational experience.

I’d like to thank Commodore Karel De Laat who, as the former Director-General of Reserves in 2003, together with captains Elsey, Mike Burton and Rod Hayes, began the process to raise the capability bar for the Naval Reserve.

I also acknowledge the detailed work done by the Director-General Navy Capability Performance and Plans, Commodore Allan Du Toit and Commander Brett Wolski who provide the permanent navy side of the Naval Reserve capability enhancement program development team.

Given both political and natural world events and the Australian Government’s desire to make a meaningful contribution to the very high tempo of operations that the Australian Navy is engaged in, will undoubtedly continue into the foreseeable future.

Throughout our nation’s history members of the Naval Reserve, together with the reserves from the other two services, have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment, courage and availability and adaptability while providing vital operational support alongside the full-time members of the ADF.

But even the best-trained and most committed people need support to be able to serve so families and employers both make sacrifices when reserves are needed and it is vital that we acknowledge and support their commitment.

It is of paramount importance to the family that a reservist’s employment is secure when they deploy or train. While traditionally the employer-reservist relationship has been one of goodwill and has been very successful, these days employers can receive financial compensation for the absence of an employee who is also a reservist, under the employee support payment scheme which is a very good scheme.

Also access to other support measures is given through the Defence Reserve Support Council and I welcome Mr Shane Stone QC here today. He does a very good job and he’s now the chairman of it, which provides a valuable interface between the reservists, their employers and the community.

Our reservists undertake difficult tasks in dangerous situations and Australia is grateful for their contribution.

I’d also like to thank the families and the employers of our reservists whose support is essential to the ongoing success of our reserve forces.

To you, our ADF reservists, I express my thanks and pride as both an Australian and a member of a regional community where, of course, a lot of ADF reservists are based, for what you have achieved on behalf of our country and I do thank you very much for the manner that you do your job.

In conclusion it is my great pleasure, as the son of a very long-serving reservist, who spent a great deal of his life after World War II being committed to the ADF reserve, to open this Naval Reserve Symposium 2006, heralding the integrated and capability based Naval Reserve for the future with capability objectives and additional funding as a basis for training and employment of the Royal Australian Naval Reservists.

The vision for enhanced capability within the Naval Reserve is clear and represents the next phase in the proud heritage that I spoke of in my introduction.

I wish fair winds and following seas during your future endeavours.

Thank you very much for your welcome. It’s been a pleasure to come and I look forward to meeting a lot of you in the future. Thank you.

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