31 March 2009

Defence: letter to the editor of The Australian

Submitted 30 March, published 31 March


In her comment piece in The Australian, 30 March 2009 (“Doubts Secretary has the right stuff” ) Lenore Taylor has misrepresented my remarks on the ABC’s Insiders program of 29 March.

Nowhere did I make reference to “the armed services’ vociferous demands for capital equipment”.

The point I made was that Governments are forever setting up reviews to make Defence more “efficient”, with the promise that the savings that result will enable more to be spent on the Capital Equipment Program. The “savings” that are then imposed on the Department come at the cost of under-investment in the maintenance and modernisation of the very IT and other systems that are required to provide the Australian Defence Force with first class administrative and operational support. Then there is wringing of hands when these systems do not perform as well as everyone might like.

For the record, I do not regard it as an extravagance to seek to provide the young Australians who will be put in harm’s way with the best possible equipment that will maximise their chances of surviving and winning.

Paul Barratt

Former Secretary, Department of Defence

(sent 31 March 2009)

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