The Defence Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (the Bill) amends the Defence Act 1903, the Naval Defence Act 1910 and the Air Force Act 1923 to provide the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) with the authority to issue directions to the Service Chiefs in relation to the administration of their respective Cadet schemes.
The Australian Defence Force Cadets is a nationwide youth development scheme delivered in partnership by Defence and the community. The Australian Defence Force Cadets comprises the Australian Navy Cadets, Australian Army Cadets and Australian Air Force Cadets. There are approximately 22,000 Australian Defence Force Cadets and 2,500 Cadet Staff in some 500 Cadet units and headquarters across Australia.
Currently, the Chief of Army, Chief of Navy and the Chief of Air Force are responsible for the administration of their respective Cadet organisations, subject to the direction of the Minister.
This means that for Cadet-related policy to be enforceable, consistent and binding on each of the cadet organisations, the three Service Chiefs, the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force must agree and endorse the policy.
This can result in delays in development of policy and misinterpretation of policy leading to duplicated efforts and inhibiting the development of a concerted and consistent youth development scheme. Indeed, the current arrangements have resulted in disparate policies and procedures being applied by each cadet organisation. For example there are no common selection and training standards for Cadets staff, which inhibits the transfer of qualified cadet staff between the cadet organisations.
In 2008 the Government commissioned an independent review of the Cadet scheme, known as the Hickling Review, to consider how Cadets could be improved to ensure it reflected community expectations for a youth development program.
The Bill implements part of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Hickling Review. In essence, the Bill’s measures will:
- allow the Chief of the Defence Force, as well as the Minister, to issue directions to the Service Chiefs in relation to the administration of their respective Cadet schemes; and
- allow the CDF to delegate his power to direct the Service Chiefs in relation to Cadet administration to the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, and;
- for consistency align the three cadet provisions.
Cadets are not members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and are not subject to the command and control regime of the ADF under the Defence Act 1903
This Bill will ensure that coherent tri-Service policy can be consistently developed and implemented by each Cadet organisation, and will assist with consolidating and reducing duplicated efforts across the Cadets programs.
Allowing the CDF, in addition to the Minister, to issue directions in relation to the administration of the Cadet scheme will strengthen the accountability of the management of the Cadets, and will facilitate the establishment of a common and concerted youth engagement and development strategy within Defence.
I commend the Bill to the House.