Defence personnel

Budget Review 2015–16 Index

Dr Nathan Church

During 2015–16 the total size of the Department of Defence (Defence) workforce will continue to reduce for the fourth year in a row (see Table 1).[1] This is primarily due to a decline in Defence’s public service (APS) workforce, which has decreased by 2,458 personnel since 2012–13 and is expected to reduce by another 980 personnel in the coming financial year. This will represent a loss of 15 per cent of civilian staff over the last four years. Further cuts are projected into the forward estimates, bringing the APS workforce to a baseline of 17,800 personnel in 2016–17, down from its 2014–15 level of 19,360.[2] However, the recently published First Principles Review into Defence cautioned against continued cuts, and recommended that ‘the focus on public service reductions as the primary efficiency mechanism for Defence cease’. The report also noted that ‘whilst these arbitrary approaches are delivering results, the review team believes a more targeted approach would produce more control over the shape and skills of the workforce’.[3]

Table 1: Defence workforce data 2010–11 to 2018–19[4]

Average workforce full-time equivalents

2010–11 (actual)
2011–12 (actual)
2012–13 (actual)
2013–14 (actual)
2014–15 (estimated
actual)
2015–16 (budget estimate)
2016–17 (forward estimate)
2017–18 (forward estimate)
2018–19
(forward
estimate)

Navy
     
14,207
     
14,054
     
13,760
     
13,862
        
14,061
     
14,238
     
14,368
     
14,416
     
14,350

Army
     
30,253
     
29,697
     
28,928
     
28,568
        
29,433
     
29,528
     
30,774
     
31,018
     
31,018

Air Force
     
14,624
     
14,243
     
13,919
     
13,934
        
14,094
     
14,216
     
14,236
     
14,125
     
14,014

Total ADF
     
59,084
     
57,994
     
56,607
     
56,364
        
57,588
     
57,982
     
59,378
     
59,559
     
59,382
Change from previous year
-1,090
-1,387
-243
1,224
394
1,396
181
-177

APS*
     
20,648
     
21,818
     
21,534
     
20,496
        
19,360
     
18,380
     
17,850
     
17,800
     
17,800
Change from previous year
1,170
-284
-1,038
-1,136
-980
-530
-50
0

Total Defence
     
79,732
     
79,812
     
78,141
     
76,860
        
76,948
     
76,362
     
77,228
     
77,359
     
77,182
Change from previous year
80
-1,671
-1,281
88
-586
866
131
-177  

*does not include employed contractors

Source: Parliamentary Library estimate based on data derived from Department of Defence, Annual Reports; Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2015–16: Defence portfolio, p. 25. 

In contrast to the APS reductions in Defence, the number of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel is expected to increase by almost 400 in 2015–16. This rise consolidates the substantial gain of over 1,200 members attained in the previous year, but even that is barely half of what was expected in the previous year’s budget papers.[5] The growth of the ADF is expected to continue out to 2017–18 where it is expected to peak at 59,559 personnel. These projections indicate a 5.2 per cent increase in the number of ADF personnel since the 2012–13 level of 56,607.[6] In terms of cost, the First Principles Review also notes that ADF personnel are 30 per cent more expensive for Defence to employ than APS staff.[7]

Within the ADF, the Army is expected to expand by an additional 1,585 personnel out to 2018–19 and remains more than double the size of either the Navy or Air Force. It is also anticipated that the Navy will overtake the Air Force in 2015–16 with the second largest number of serving personnel in the ADF, which is unprecedented in the past 40 years.[8] This shift is possibly the result of the increased capability requirements to crew two new Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs) and three new Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs). The first LHD, HMAS Canberra, has already been commissioned and the Navy expects to take delivery of all five new vessels by 2019.[9]      


[1].          The budget figures in this article have been taken from the following document unless otherwise sourced: Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2015–16: budget related paper no. 1.4A: Defence Portfolio, pp. 22–25.

[2].          Data derived from Department of Defence, Annual Reports; Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2015–16: Defence Portfolio, p. 25.

[3].          Department of Defence, ‘First Principles Review: creating one Defence’, 1 April 2015, p. 67.

[4].          Data derived from Department of Defence, Annual Reports; Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2015–16: Defence Portfolio, p. 25.

[5].          Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2014–15: budget related paper no. 1.4A: Defence Portfolio, p. 24.

[6].          Data derived from Department of Defence, Annual Reports; Portfolio budget statements 2015–16:Defence Portfolio, op. cit., p. 25.

[7].          ‘First Principles Review’, op. cit., p. 66.

[8].          Data derived from Department of Defence, Annual Reports; A Shephard, Trends in Australian Defence: a resources study, Australian Defence Studies Centre, 1999, p. 51.

[9].          Royal Australian Navy, ‘Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD)’, website; D Watt, The Air Warfare Destroyer program, Research paper series, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 10 November 2014.

 

All online articles accessed May 2015. 

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