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Defence Minister needs to come clean

Defence Minister needs to come clean

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman’s response to the latest survey of morale and engagement within the Defence Force is disingenuous and dishonest, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson, Phil Goff.

“Mr Coleman says the next survey will be better. He said that last time.

“What this survey shows is that morale remains low and that many more experienced personnel intend leaving.

“Mr Coleman doesn’t want to face the fact that the policies pursued by his Government have done long term damage to our Defence Force.

“Thousands of skilled people have left and it will take years to replace them. It’s why we rely on sailors seconded from the Australian navy to put our inshore patrol vessels to sea, and even then on much reduced ‘sea days’.

“The Minister also says Defence Force staff have just received a pay rise. What he isn’t saying is that for the previous four years their scheduled pay rises were blocked because of Government cost-cutting.

“He ignores the fact that one in five employees describes their morale as poor. He includes the neutral response of ‘satisfactory’ as a positive.

“And he’s telling outright porkies when he says the survey results weren’t withheld. Reporters have told me that they have sought – and were denied - a release of the results for weeks.

“You can see why Mr Coleman didn’t want the results made public.

“He also tries to blame Labour for casting the Defence Force in a negative light. These surveys are conducted by the Defence Force, and the results show what our soldiers, sailors and air personnel are saying themselves.

“It’s time Mr Coleman stopped making excuses and took responsibility for the real damage he and this Government have done to the Defence Force.

“On the eve of Anzac Day we don’t need lip service to support Defence Force personnel. We need to place genuine value on the professional and loyal service they give.”

ends

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