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Not enough personnel for the defence of Australia.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

27 October 2003


Figures released by the Audit Office today show that the Howard Government is failing to recruit to the ADF the numbers necessary for the defence of Australia.

The report follows concerns about key units being well below operational strength and shortages in key personnel categories such as fighter pilots.

The figures from the Audit Office release today show that between June 2002 and June 2003, the ADF grew by just over 400 people, bringing the size of the total permanent force to only 51,791.

This is well below the 54,000 the Government itself has said is needed for the defence of Australia.

In the 2000 White Paper, the Government set the target strength of the ADF at 54,000.

However it has not achieved anything near the rate necessary to reach this by 2010, failing to achieve target levels for both permanent and Reserve recruits for each of the last 3 years.

The rate of recruits to the ADF actually dropped in the last year, with the Government attracting only 84% of the numbers it wanted in 2002/03. This is down by almost 10% on the previous year.

This new report follows the Audit Office’s March findings that Defence is continuing to experience significant difficulties in recruiting and retaining specialist personnel.

That report found that Defence is more than 10% under-strength in nearly 40 specialist employment categories across each of the Services.

It was also revealed that there is a high risk to operational effectiveness due to the failure to achieve recruiting targets in many specialist areas.

The Chief of the Army told a Parliamentary Committee in February that the ADF’s ability to meet minimum capability targets continued to be compromised.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Mary Wood 0438 983 908