Letter from the Secretary of Defence to The Australian
20 November 2014
This is the letter from the Secretary to The Australian in response to Nick Cater's article on 18 November 2014, Shiny pants don't need a pay rise.
Nick Cater's 18 November article [Shiny pants don't need a pay rise] is full of bile, prejudice and inaccuracies.
Amongst the many inaccuracies is the claim that the Defence People Group is a 'division caught up in the prissy, moral crusades of our time and driven by the obsessions that bear little relation to the strategic purpose of Defence'.
The Defence leadership is committed to diversity. It is a commitment shared by both politically correct civilians and hard headed military leaders.
Organisations with high levels of inclusion and diversity are more effective. Those that do not commit to diversity condemn themselves to be second rate and uncompetitive.
Currently, 1168 Indigenous Australians are in the permanent and reserve ADF, and 209 are employed in the Defence public service. The Defence leadership, both civilian and military, is working hard to increase these numbers because we believe it is in the national interest.
Earlier this year the Department of Defence became the first Commonwealth Agency to exercise an exemption provision in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules in awarding a construction contract to an Indigenous-owned enterprise - Pacific Services Group Holdings Pty Ltd for a project worth up to $6 million at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney. We are proud of this achievement and hope it is not the only time the exemption provision is exercised by this Department.
For the same reasons we seek to employ more Indigenous Australians, we seek to employ more women and to develop workplaces which are inclusive and free of prejudice.
For many years Defence have employed people with disabilities from the not-for-profit Koomarri Jobmatch program. We have recently engaged HELP Enterprises in south-east Queensland to provide some administrative services at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane. Tough and practical ADF commanders are active supporters of these programs. Through them we have seen young people with disabilities contribute to Defence, earn an income for the first time and gain some independence. We very much hope to be able to expand these programs over the next 12 months.
As the Secretary of Defence, I will continue to ensure that we give all members ofthe Australian community the opportunity to contribute to Australia's defence in ways strongly supported by the ADF leadership. I am proud to lead those people in Defence who, in Nick Cater's words, are 'caught up in the prissy, moral crusades of our time'.
You will note that the letter printed in The Australian on 19 November 2014 (Letters, The Australian - 19 November 2014) was edited by The Australian.
The full text of the Secretary's letter has now, however, been published on The Australian website.