Minister for Defence – Defence Minister announces First Principles Review panel

A key Abbott Government election pledge has been fulfilled with the announcement of the First Principles Review Team, an initiative designed to ensure Defence is fit for purpose and able to promptly respond to future challenges.

Defence Minister David Johnston said the focus of the review would be on achieving more streamlined decisions on defence acquisitions and sustainment programs.

“The First Principles Review Team will make recommendations designed to ensure Defence’s business structures support the Australian Defence Force’s principal tasks out to 2030,” Senator Johnston said.

“The First Principles Team will report to me early next year for consideration at National Security Committee as part of the White Paper.”

“It will improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Defence while delivering a more commercially astute and focused materiel acquisition and sustainment capability,” he added.

Other duties assigned to the team as part of the Terms of Reference include ensuring the ongoing delivery and reporting of agreed recommendations from the Commission of Audit.

“Today I announce that David Peever will chair the review and lead an independent and expert panel comprising: Professor Peter Leahy, Mr Jim McDowell, Professor Robert Hill and Mr Lindsay Tanner.

“The Review Team will be supported by an external consultancy and is a balanced non-politically partisan group comprising industry, military and ministerial experience,” said Senator Johnston.

He praised the team members as highly regarded professionals of the utmost integrity.

Media contacts:
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

First Principles Team Biographies

David Peever – Chairman

David Peever served as Managing Director of Rio Tinto Australia of Rio Tinto Ltd from October 2009 to March 2014. Mr. Peever had been with Rio Tinto for 22 years after working as Principal Economist with the Queensland Coal Association. He has served as Managing Director of Rio Tinto Marine, Chief Commercial Officer in Rio Tinto Borax based in Valencia, California. Mr Peevers is Vice Chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia. In late 2005, he undertook a secondment into BP Shipping as part of a developmental program prior to his promotion to Rio Tinto Marine in April 2006. Mr. Peever is a Director of Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique (formerly Riversdale Mining Ltd) and Independent Non-Executive Director at the Australian Foundation Investment Company Limited. Mr Peever serves as a Director of the Business Council of Australia, Melbourne Business School and Cricket Australia.

Peter Leahy

Peter Leahy was appointed the foundation Director of the University of Canberra’s National Security Institute on October 7, 2008. He retired from the Army in 2008 with the rank of Lieutenant-General after a 37-year career as a soldier. During his tenure as Chief of Army, he was responsible for the rapid expansion and development of the Army, including the Special Forces, to enable it to cope with the many changing demands of modern conflict and a changing security environment. His focus in developing the Army was to provide a hardened and networked Army with increased adaptability and flexibility and the ability to provide a broad range of domestic, expeditionary, and development options to Government.

Jim McDowell

Jim McDowell has been Deputy Chair of Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation since March 2014. Mr McDowell was Chief Executive of BAE Systems Saudi Arabia from September 5, 2011 until he ceased all work with BAE and its affiliates on 1 December, 2013. During his time with BAE, Mr. McDowell served as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at BAE Systems India (Services) Private Limited, Chief Executive Officer of BAE Systems Australia Limited and Managing Director of CS&S Australia at BAE Systems plc. Mr. McDowell successfully led BAE Systems Australia Limited for more than a decade. In 2008, he oversaw the integration of BAE Systems Australia with Tenix Defence to create a new business with capabilities across the air, sea, land, electronic and security domains.

Robert Hill

A barrister and solicitor before entering politics, Mr Hill served as Vice-President of the Liberal Party of South Australia from 1977-79 and President from 1985-87. Following the Liberals’ election victory in 1996, Mr Hill became Leader of the Government in the Senate (1996–2006), Minister for the Environment (1996–98), Minister for the Environment and Heritage (1998-2001) and Minister for Defence (2001–06).] On 1 January 2001, Hill was awarded the Centenary Medal for “service as Minister for Defence”. In July 2005 the Coalition parties took control of the Senate and Mr Hill became the first Government Leader in the Senate since 1981 to command a majority in the chamber. In 2006, he resigned from the Ministry and as Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Lindsay Tanner

Lindsay Tanner graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours and a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, and later a Master of Arts in History. While still at university, he co-wrote a book on environmental politics and worked as a casual layout and design artist. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 Mr Tanner served one term as a Government backbencher during Paul Keating’s final term as Prime Minister. In 2007 Mr Tanner was appointed Minister for Finance and Deregulation and chose not to recontest his seat for the 2010 Federal Election. Mar Tanner was subsequently appointed as Vice Chancellor’s Fellow and Adjunct Professor at Victoria University and a special adviser to financial firm Lazard Australia. (Note: Mr Tanner will take leave from his duties later this year.)

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