Following the Federal Government’s termination of Allan Hawke as Secretary of the Defence Department, the Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, directed a question in the House of Representatives to the Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson.
Crean asked why the government has decided not to renew Dr. Hawke’s contract. Anderson did not provide a clear answer.
- Listen to Crean and Anderson (3m)
Hansard transcript of Simon Crean’s question to John Anderson.
Mr CREAN (2:12 PM) —My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Would he explain why the government has decided not to renew the contract of the Secretary to the Department of Defence, Dr Allan Hawke? In this time of great international uncertainty, what assurance can you give to our 50,000 service men and women about their leadership, given that, since the start of the Howard government, the ADF and the defence department have endured the comings and goings of no less than four defence ministers and four defence secretaries?
Mr ANDERSON (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —I thank the honourable member for his question and acknowledge that this is a matter of importance and of very great interest to all in the community at a time of considerable challenge in our own region and internationally. Let me first say that Dr Allan Hawke will shortly fulfil a three-year contract as the Secretary of the Department of Defence. He deserves—and I have put this down elsewhere—recognition and appreciation for his role in developing the defence white paper, in taking forward the new Defence Capability Plan and in undertaking major internal restructuring. I also want to say that nobody can have any doubts about the qualities, the depth, the experience—in diplomatic as well as military circles—of his successor, Ric Smith. He is highly regarded and very competent to fulfil the onerous tasks that will be expected of him in his new role.
When it comes to our serving men and women, I have no doubt that they know they enjoy the very strong support of the government, I hope of all people in this place, and of the Australian people for the outstanding way in which they have performed in recent years. I think knowing that they have the strong support of the government and the Australian people is important to the defence forces.
In addition to that, it is highly appropriate that we mention the recent CDF, Chris Barrie, who fulfilled his role outstandingly, and the new CDF, Peter Cosgrove, and the team around him. You could not ask for people who inspire greater confidence and greater security in their leadership and greater certainty for the future in terms of people knowing that their interests will be well looked after at the same time as the nation looks to them to discharge their very important responsibilities.