Australia — Stephen Smith on Budget, Afghanistan etc

Min­is­ter for Defence — Inter­view with Alexan­dra Kirk, ABC AM
TOPICS: Strate­gic Reform Pro­gram; Bud­get; Vis­it by Pakistan’s Gen­er­al Wynne; Death of Osama bin Laden; Afghanistan
PETER CAVE: The Defence Min­is­ter Stephen Smith told Alexan­dra Kirk a pre­dict­ed growth in Defence pub­lic ser­vants will be scaled back.

STEPHEN SMITH: We are propos­ing over the next three years to reduce our civil­ian com­pli­ment by 1000. That will see rule of thumb a sav­ing of in the order of $300 mil­lion. Under the Strate­gic Reform Pro­gram that would nor­mal­ly be returned to Defence but because of the need for Defence to make a con­tri­bu­tion to the bud­get bot­tom line on this occa­sion those pro­ceeds will be returned to the Bud­get and assist the Gov­ern­ment in its efforts to return to surplus. 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And is this going to hap­pen more fre­quent­ly, or is this a one-off? 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well this par­tic­u­lar mea­sure is a one-off. And, impor­tant­ly, we are talk­ing here about civil­ian employ­ees. Our oper­a­tional mat­ters will con­tin­ue to be appro­pri­ate­ly and ade­quate­ly resourced and they stand alone in their own right. 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Is the fed­er­al Bud­get in such dire cir­cum­stances that you have to steal, in effect, $300 mil­lion from Defence’s Strate­gic Reform Pro­gram in order to bol­ster the bot­tom line? 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well first­ly this is an addi­tion­al com­po­nent of the Strate­gic Reform Pro­gram. Sec­ond­ly I have made it clear that whilst I won’t be drawn on Bud­get mat­ters per se as a gen­er­al propo­si­tion we will con­tin­ue to ade­quate­ly and appro­pri­ate­ly resource our oper­a­tions whether it’s Afghanistan, East Tim­or or the Solomon Islands. But sec­ond­ly Defence does have to make a con­tri­bu­tion to the Government’s bud­get chal­lenges and its sur­plus ambi­tion and this is an appro­pri­ate way of doing that while at the same time effect­ing a long term strate­gic reform. 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Pakistan’s Chair­man of their Joint Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee, Gen­er­al Wynne, was in Aus­tralia this week when the bin Laden news broke but flew out under the radar. Did you meet him? 

STEPHEN SMITH: Yes,I met him in the after­math of the president’s address, pres­i­dent Obama’s address to the nation. So obvi­ous­ly we spoke about that and his response was pre­cise­ly the same as pres­i­dent Zardari’s response as relayed by pres­i­dent Oba­ma. In oth­er words he wel­comed the out­come. He regard­ed bin Laden as hav­ing declared war on Pak­istan and the Pak­istani peo­ple. And he believed it was a sub­stan­tial advance so far as efforts against ter­ror­ism were concerned. 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And con­sid­er­ing his posi­tion was he, did he say whether he was aware that Osama bin Laden has been in Pak­istan for some time? 

STEPHEN SMITH: Well he cer­tain­ly did­n’t indi­cate to me that he was aware of that. On the con­trary, he said that Pak­istan had been seek­ing to locate bin Laden for a num­ber of years and had been unsuc­cess­ful. He also indi­cat­ed that for a num­ber of years efforts had been made or pred­i­cat­ed on the basis of bin Laden being in the gen­er­al vicin­i­ty of the Pakistan/Afghanistan bor­der. He was at pains to make the point that he believed that Pak­istan had coop­er­at­ed in gen­er­al terms with the Unit­ed States on counter terrorism. 

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twitter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →