26 October 2009

Defence Strategic Advisory Board

The Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon. John Faulkner, has announced the makeup of the Defence Reform Strategic Advisory Board that he has appointed to oversight Defence’s Strategic Reform Program, the program that is to realise savings of $20 billion over the next decade to help fund the upgraded capabilities foreshadowed in the Defence White Paper (see here for the item by Patrick Walters in The Weekend Australian, 24-25 October 2009.)

The Advisory Board, which will report to Senator Faulkner quarterly, will consist of:

- Management consultant George Pappas (Chair)

- John Fletcher, CEO of Brambles and Coles Myer

- Linda Nicholls, ex-Chairwoman of Australia Post, now Chairman of Healthscope

- Paul Rizzo, former executive of Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank

- David Mortimer, Chairman of Australia Post and Leighton Holdings

- Jennifer Clark, company director and former investment banker

- Terry Moran, Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

- Ken Henry, Secretary to the Treasury

- David Tune, Secretary to the Department of Finance

- Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, Chief of the Defence Force

- Ian Watt, Secretary, Department of Defence

- Stephen Gumley, Head, Defence Materiel Organisation.

I wonder how long it will take this high-powered team to give the Government the one piece of strategic advice it really needs – that savings on anything like the required scale simply are not there (see Defence savings: the impossible dream). Who ever dreamed up the fantasy that after making allowance for the capital spend, essential maintenance of defence materiel, the salaries and allowances of uniformed personnel, training costs, estate management costs and defence research and development, there was a cool $2 billion per annum sloshing around waiting to be harvested from whatever out of the rest might be considered non-essential expenditure?

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