19 Nov 2011

Labour says it would review Defence Force policy

7:17 pm on 19 November 2011

The Labour Party says if elected, it would review the National-led Government's policy of making some Defence Force roles civilian ones.

Earlier this year, the Defence Force conducted its first round of job cuts and transferred military positions to civilian ones in a bid to save about $23 million.


Some 304 people were advised that they had to be discharged from the Defence Force. One hundred and fifty-five people chose to reapply for a civilian role, while 147 personnel opted to take redundancy.

The first round of cuts has cost $5.2 million in redundancy payouts.

Labour's defence spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says the Government did not do its homework on the policy and that is why it has incurred a multimillion-dollar redundancy bill.

"Labour's policy is to review the civilianisation project and see whether there's any sense in continuing with it in the first place.

"If we do decide to continue with it, we will amend the Defence Act so that uniform personnel can be moved directly from the uniform position into the civil service."

But the National Party says enabling Defence Force personnel whose roles have been disestablished to directly apply for civilian equivalents would have made little difference to redundancy payments.

Defence spokesperson Wayne Mapp says in many cases, redundancy payments were inevitable.

"Not every position that has been made redundant within the Defence Force gets civilianised. And in some instances, we also want to be able to advertise more broadly.

"It is certainly true in many cases people are being offered the position again and they are getting them. But in many cases people are actually making their own choices and have decided they'll look further afield."

National says the policy has so far saved about $16.6 million. The second round of the process begins early next year.