Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel – Release of Plan to Reform Support Ship Repair and Management Practices

The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today released the Plan to Reform Support Ship Repair and Management Practices developed by Mr Paul Rizzo.

The release of Mr Rizzo’s Report is the next phase in a series of reforms announced by Mr Smith and Mr Clare to improve Defence’s accountability, procurement and sustainment practices.

Mr Rizzo led an expert team that was appointed in February to develop a plan to address significant problems in the repair, maintenance and sustainment of the Royal Australian Navy’s amphibious fleet.

These problems included the extended operational pause adversely affecting HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla, the early decommissioning of HMAS Manoora and the extended maintenance of HMAS Tobruk.

The appointment of the independent team followed advice about the amphibious fleet provided by the Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force, which made it clear that problems with the amphibious fleet had built up over a decade or more.

Many of the seeds of the problems we now face were sown long ago.  Insufficient resources have been allocated to address materiel and personnel shortfalls since the ships were brought into service 20 years ago.

Mr Rizzo’s Report confirms these conclusions.

Mr Rizzo’s Team was also asked to consider the impact of those findings on the sustainment of other naval vessels in particular supply ships, and the maintenance concepts for the Air Warfare Destroyer and Landing Helicopter Dock.

The report highlights a number of critical issues that Navy, the Defence Materiel Organisation and Defence as a whole must address.

The Report found poor risk management practices, a failure to manage assets on a ‘whole of life’ basis, negative aspects of a ‘can do, make do’ culture, the failure of Navy and the Defence Materiel Organisation to work together seamlessly, and perhaps most importantly, an overall ineffectiveness of the Naval engineering function in Navy and the maritime elements of the Defence Materiel Organisation.

Collectively, these issues have compromised the availability of Navy assets and potentially the sustainability of Navy ships in the longer term.

The Rizzo Report makes twenty-four recommendations to improve operational availability and outcomes and ensure the ongoing technical integrity of Navy ships. 

Defence fully accepts Mr Rizzo’s recommendations and the Government and Defence will implement them.

Today we announce a series of measures to improve the way the Navy repairs and manages its ships.

One of the key recommendations of the Rizzo Report is that Navy engineering needs to be rebuilt and reorganised, led by a two star Navy Admiral to give the necessary weight to this critical function.

Commodore Michael Uzzell will be promoted to this position and will lead the rebuilding of the Navy engineering function.

In parallel, the Defence Materiel Organisation is undertaking a fundamental restructure of its Amphibious and Afloat Support Systems Program Office.  To strengthen this office, which is responsible for maintaining Navy’s amphibious ships, the Defence Materiel Organisation will increase the Systems Program Office by over 20 new positions, with the first tranche to be advertised in the coming weeks.

The Government has asked Mr Rizzo to chair an Implementation Committee so that he can personally ensure that the agreed recommendations are being effectively implemented in a timely way.  

Mr Rizzo’s Report found that accountability is lacking across the Defence organisation in areas such as decision-making and performance management.

The Government is currently finalising its response to the Review of the Defence Accountability Framework conducted by Rufus Black (the Black Review).

The Government’s response to the Black Review, together with the response today to Mr Rizzo’s Report, will provide a framework for greater accountability and an improved Defence performance.

The Rizzo Report has identified a clear need for change.  The priority now is to build a new culture to reshape the way Defence manages our maritime security capability.

The Rizzo Report is available online at http://www.defence.gov.au/rizzo-review/

 Mr Smith’sOffice: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392

Mr Clare’s Office: Tim Quadrio (02) 6277 7620 or0401 976 269

Department: (02) 6127 1999

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