THE HON ANDREW HASTIE MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Good morning everyone, and welcome to Irwin Barracks.
This is an historic day. It really is.
Today we are recognising the importance of Cadets – and investing strongly in the future growth of cadets right across the country, but particularly here in Western Australia where we have 4,880 cadets.
I’m particularly pleased to be with Brigadier Brett Chaloner, CSC, Commander of 13th Brigade. Brett has done exceptional work here in WA since coming on board as Commander, sent out here by the Chief of Army to lift the profile of Army and the ADF in WA, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him to roll these important projects out in the months and years ahead.
I’m also delighted to be joined by the Commander of Army Cadets in WA, Colonel David Jones. David, thank you for the introduction to the cadets earlier.
I started my military service as a cadet. I just spoke to the one cadet here who has his adventure training award, the one award that eluded me as a cadet.
It is where I first tasted failure, and from that I grew stronger.
From there, I ended up at ADFA, then Duntroon, then to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and then finally here at SASR over at Campbell Barracks.
So, I know first-hand that cadets provide young Australians with opportunities to lead, to grow and to serve our country.
It is a vital part of Defence’s contribution to building Australia’s future leaders.
And isn’t it great to see some of our WA cadets joining us here today.
Today we are announcing some important initiatives to help strengthen the future of cadets; initiatives that will ensure we grow the Cadet Program in the critical years ahead.
I am here at Irwin Barracks here in WA to talk about these announcements and their relevance to Western Australia.
And our announcements are the following:
Australian Defence Force (ADF) Reserve and Cadet facilities across Australia will undergo significant upgrades with more than $1 billion to be invested by the Australian Government over the next 10 years.
The investment includes $53 million in infrastructure upgrades to 18 cadet facilities, including in rural and remote communities, over the next year.
This infrastructure investment will support the growth of the ADF Cadets by 10 percent over the next year.
As part of this significant enhancement of the cadets program, General Sir Peter Cosgrove will become the first Patron of the ADF Cadets.
Sir Peter of course started as a cadet himself then went to the Royal Military College Duntroon, became a platoon commander, fought in Vietnam where he won the military cross, went on to command INTERFET in East Timor, he became the Chief of Army and then the Chief of the Defence Force. Then he became our Governor General.
So, cadets, who knows what possibilities the future holds for some of you – but for Sir Peter it was a foundation step in his development as a leader, and that is why it is so good to have him as a patron.
Defence will increase numbers in existing cadet units and create new units to complement broader Government initiatives supporting youth development and skilling.
The program will focus on growing cadet and volunteer numbers, and establishing new units in rural and remote areas.
To ensure enduring local unit success, additional personnel including veterans and reservists – and thank you to the staff who do so much for our cadets, it really does make a difference and I’m sorry that I referred to you as cadets earlier, you are just so youthful looking and fit – but you guys play a really important role and it is good of you to devote your time to the development of these young Australians.
What this means is that here in WA, more than $115 million has been allocated to upgrade 8 Reserve and Cadet facilities, including in Rural and Regional areas of WA, over the next ten years.
And over the next year, a further two priority sites will be upgraded here in WA at a cost of more than $6.5 million.
As you know, we teach cadets Defence customs, traditions and values.
This is important, as cadet service increases the likelihood of young people joining the ADF or committing to other forms of service to their community.
Earlier, I took a show of hands of those who were interested in a Defence career and about 70 or 80 per cent of you said that you were looking at a career in Defence which is great.
We want a high conversion rate of cadets to ADF service.
The good news is that ADF Cadet numbers have increased by 9 per cent over the last four years. And as Assistant Minister for Defence and as a former cadet, I want to see this upward trend continue – which is what this announcement is all about.
We know we are living in an uncertain and dangerous time. We can’t take anything for granted today. The world looks very different today than it did just a few years ago.
The war in Ukraine is proof of that, the Russian-Chinese ‘no-limits partnership’ has proven that.
That's why the Morrison Government is taking steps to secure our sovereignty and our security into the future.
And that’s why we are investing in the ADF, and in our Cadets – in our future leaders.
So I might hand over to Brigadier Chaloner to say a few words. We’ll then take any questions on the cadet announcements, and if there are any further questions on the issues of the day, I’ll excuse our uniformed personal and I’m happy to deal with those.
So Brett, over to you.