Defence personnel

Budget Review 2016–17 Index

Dr Nathan Church

The 2016 Defence White Paper, released on 25 February 2016, proposed that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) grow to approximately 62,400 personnel by 2026, which the white paper notes is around 2,500 more than previously projected.[1] This represents a 7.5 per cent increase over the next decade from its size in 2015–16 (see Table 1).[2] The 2016–17 Defence budget indicates that this target is certainly achievable, with an immediate increase of 1,188 ADF personnel in 2016–17 ahead of smaller but steady growth across the forward estimates.

Within the three services, many of the personnel increases will involve the Navy and Army, accounting for almost 90 per cent of the ADF growth out to 2020. This is possibly the result of the new, large-scale capabilities going to these services, including Landing Helicopter Docks and Air Warfare Destroyers for the Navy, and the extensive LAND 400 Program which will rejuvenate the Army’s armoured fighting vehicles.[3]  

Table 1: Defence workforce data 2011–12 to 2019–20

Average workforce full-time equivalents (FTE)

(APS = Australian Public Service)

 

2011–12
(actual)

2012–13
(actual)

2013–14
(actual)

2014–15
(actual)

2015–16
(estimated actual)

2016–17
(budget estimate)

2017–18
(forward estimate)

2018–19
(forward estimate)

2019–20
(forward estimate)

Navy

14,054

13,760

13,862

14,070

14,216

14,394

14,456

14,684

14,718

Army

29,697

28,928

28,568

29,366

29,640

30,430

30,891

30,907

30,966

Air Force

14,243

13,919

13,934

14,076

14,165

14,385

14,334

14,203

14,406

Total ADF

57,994

56,607

56,364

57,512

58,021

59,209

59,681

59,794

60,090

Change from prev. year

 

-1,387

-243

1,148

509

1,188

472

113

296

APS

21,818

21,534

20,496

19,342

18,100

17,950

18,200

18,200

18,200

Change from prev. year

 

-284

-1,038

-1,154

-1,242

-150

250

0

0

Total Defence

79,812

78,141

76,860

76,854

76,121

77,159

77,881

77,994

78,290

Change from prev. year

 

-1,671

-1,281

-6

-733

1,038

722

113

296

Source: Parliamentary Library estimate based on data derived from Department of Defence, Annual reports; Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2016–17: budget related paper no. 1.4A: Defence Portfolio, p. 25.

The size of Defence’s APS staffing level will continue to decrease in 2016–17, though at a much reduced rate compared to the previous three years. It is anticipated that the level of 17,950 APS employees in 2016–17 will be the low-point of staffing levels, with a stabilised rate of 18,200 personnel shown out to the forward estimates. This represents an increase of the previous year’s Defence budget projections, which anticipated an ongoing level of 17,800 APS employees.

Within the ongoing APS workforce of 18,200 personnel, the 2016 Defence White Paper indicated that 800 new positions would be created in intelligence, space and cybersecurity, alongside 400 other new positions in IT support, simulation, support to Navy engineering and logistics, security, force design and analysis, and strategic and international policy.[4]

The Defence First Principles Review also proposed a reduction in management roles that had a limited span of control, and highlighted the fact that executive level APS officers often managed fewer than three staff.[5] The 2016–17 Defence budget shows that this reduction has commenced across APS executive level staff, with almost 500 positions to be removed by the end of 2016–17. This represents a reduction of almost eight per cent in two years and a third of the total reduction in APS employees since 2014–15.[6]



[1].          Department of Defence (DoD), 2016 Defence White Paper, 25 February 2016, p. 146.

[2].          The budget figures in this brief have been taken from the following document unless otherwise sourced: Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2016–17: budget related paper no. 1.4A: Defence Portfolio, pp. 25–26.

[3].          Royal Australian Navy (RAN), ‘Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD)’, RAN website; RAN, ‘Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD)’, RAN website; Australian Army, ‘Project LAND 400’, Australian Army website.

[4].          DoD, 2016 Defence White Paper, op. cit., p. 150.

[5].          Department of Defence, First principles review: creating one defence, 1 April 2015, pp. 68, 60.

[6].          Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2015–16: budget related paper no. 1.4A: Defence Portfolio, p. 27.

 

All online articles accessed May 2016. 

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