Defence personnel

Budget Review 2013–14 Index

Nathan Church

The 2013–14 Budget largely represents a continuation for Defence workforce planning. As Tables 1 and 2 demonstrate, the Government is proposing increases in Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and cuts to Australian Public Service (APS) staff, supporting Defence’s ‘transition to a leaner model in support of the Government’s defence reform agenda’.[1]

ADF workforce levels

In his 2013–14 Budget Overview press release, the Defence Minister reinforced the Government’s commitment to ‘an ADF workforce of approximately 59,000 permanent members’.[2] However, this may be difficult to achieve, as the Budget itself cites improved labour market conditions as a catalyst for separations from the ADF—offsetting reportedly strong recruitment—as well as the potential for increased separations following the impending drawdown of multiple ADF operations.[3] But with new capabilities planned, as well as a renewed focus on partner engagement strategies, the 2013 White Paper clearly states that ‘the ADF … will play a critical part … to best position Australia for the strategic transformation occurring in the Indo-Pacific region’.[4]  

Table 1: Planned ADF workforce 2012–13 to 2016–17[5]

2012–13

2013–14

2014–15

2015–16

2016–17

ADF Permanent

56711

58235

58518

58664

58645

ADF Reserves

18956

19050

19300

19500

19700

Total

75667

77285

77818

78164

78345

Change (year on year)

+1618

+533

+346

+181

 

Within the ADF services, Army will see the biggest growth between 2012–13 and 2016–17—up from 28,955 to 30,298 personnel. This same period is also expected to see an increase of 844 personnel in the number of Army Reserves, with steady growth of some 200 members per year.[6]        

APS workforce levels

Between 2013–14 and 2016–17, the Government is forecasting a reduction of 741 APS Defence staff members, from 21,217 to 20,476.[7] This represents an even larger cut across the forward estimates than the previous Budget (which indicated cuts of 648 APS staff) and further demonstrates the Government’s resolve to trim APS staff across its various departments.[8] However, the APS workforce allocation of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) is not anticipated to be subject to the same level of cuts. Over the forward estimates within DMO, the removal of APS staff back-filling ADF positions in 2013–14 (363 personnel) will in turn be largely offset with increases in its APS staffing (276 personnel) and contractor (21 personnel) allocations.[9]

Table 2: Planned civilian workforce (not including contractors) 2012–13 to 2016–17[10]

2012–13

2013–14

2014–15

2015–16

2016–17

APS—Defence

15794

15547

15183

15001

14893

APS—DMO (inc. ADF backfill)

5750

5670

5529

5548

5583

Total

21544

21217

20712

20549

20476

Change (year on year)

-327

-505

-163

-73

 

According to the Defence Budget Portfolio Statement 2013–14, ‘the [APS staffing] savings have been made possible by continuing reforms to Defence’s business practices, in particular through the wider application of Shared Services reform’.[11] This rationale has been consistently used across the last three budgets, and has most recently been coupled with ongoing assurances from the Defence Minister (and the Budget itself) that support to operations and other priority services would not be negatively impacted by any measures contained within the Budget, including projected staffing cuts.[12]   



[1].       Department of Defence, Defence White Paper 2013, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2013, p. 104, accessed 16 May 2013.

[2].       S Smith (Minister for Defence), Budget 2013–14: Defence Budget overview, media release, 14 May 2013, accessed 15 May 2013.

[3].       Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2013–14: budget related paper no. 1.4A: Defence Portfolio, p. 19, accessed 16 May 2013.

[4].       Department of Defence, Defence White Paper, op. cit., pp. 75, 55.

[5].       Portfolio budget statements 2013–14, Defence Portfolio, op. cit., p. 21.

[6].       Ibid.

[7].       Ibid.

[8].       Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2012–13: budget related paper no. 1.5A: Defence Portfolio, p. 36, accessed 16 May 2013; V Burgess, ‘1261 civilian jobs to go’, Australian Financial Review, 15 May 2013, p. 29, accessed 16 May 2013.

[9].       Portfolio budget statements 2013–14, Defence Portfolio, op. cit., p. 142.

[10].      Ibid., p. 21.

[11].      Ibid., p. 19.

[12].      S Smith, Budget 2013–14: Defence Budget overview, op. cit.; ibid.

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