5. Other Matters

In addition to the five focus areas the Committee resolved to review in the Terms of Reference and has covered in chapters 1-4 of this report, during the Public Hearing, 17 February 2017 the Committee sought information on; the effect of power security on ADF operations and fuel security. Additionally, the Committee considered options to improve longitudinal joint Parliamentary oversight of the Defence portfolio. On 13 June 2017, the Committee resolved to introduce a new methodology to review future Department of Defence Annual Reports. The new methodology is detailed later in this Chapter.

Power Security

The Public Hearing, 17 February 2017, followed the South Australian statewide power outages on 28 September 2016, and 8 February 2017. As a number of Department of Defence (Department) bases are located in South Australia (SA), the Committee inquired into the effects power outages may have had on the Department of Defence’s operations nationally. The Department advised:
In the period since the interruption of the power supply to RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia on 28 September 2016, there have been no known power outages at Defence bases.
Defence was asked on 10 February 2017 by NSW and ACT authorities to decrease energy use where possible due to extreme weather conditions. Garden Island and Australian Signals Directorate assets operated from contingency power sources. Defence operations were not impacted.
On each occasion of reduced dependence on the mains power supply, the backup power equipment provides power to the most critical areas of the bases in accordance with established priorities. For operational and security reasons the specific prioritisation is classified but in general terms, priority is given to facilities that directly support operational capability
It is estimated that approximately 31,000 litres of fuel was used by power generation systems during these incidents; however, as the systems are tested regularly, a proportion of this consumption would have been consumed during the regular testing regime and as such does not necessarily represent an additional cost.1
The Committee notes the Department’s use of Defence funded back-up power systems to maintain operations for the most critical operational requirements. Clearly this infrastructure is in place to cover unforeseen emergencies such as occurred in SA. It is obviously essential and it is an ongoing requirement for this capability to be funded as part of key establishment or infrastructure design, acquisition and sustainment.

Fuel Security

The Committee inquired into paragraph 4.68 of the Defence White Paper 2016, specifically regarding Australia’s commitment to meet the International Energy Association’s benchmark of holding 90 days net oil in stock. The Department advised:
The Integrated Investment Plan has programmed across the decade upgrades to existing Defence fuel infrastructure and improved access to commercial fuel supplies, particularly to support operations in northern Australia.
Defence also has an active ongoing program of energy research in order to identify new energy technologies that offer warfighting or energy security advantages, including the use of bio-fuels. Defence is also investigating ways alternative and renewable power sources can contribute to base energy security, including supplementing diesel power at off-grid sites to extend the level of capability achieved from existing fuel stores.2
The Committee acknowledges the acquisition and maintenance of strategic fuel stocks is a national issue; not a responsibility that Department of Defence is accountable for. The Committee commends Department of Defence for its ongoing work to advance energy research, noting that the outcomes may in time benefit all Australians.

Review of Reported Department of Defence Performance

The Committee reviewed in excess of 45 reports focussed on Department of Defence performance over the period 1 July 2013 through to the end of April 2017. The reports reviewed made 153 recommendations, with 84 percent of recommendations seeking improvement in the performance of enabling functions. A breakdown of recommendation by capability stream is in Table 5.1 and the breakdown of recommendations specific to select enabling functions is in Table 5.2.
Table 5.1:  Recommendations on Department of Defence Performance: July 2013 - April 2017
Summary of Recommendations on Department of Defence Performance
1 Jul 13 to 27 Apr 17
Government Legislation
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Electronic Warfare, Space and Cyber
Air and Sea Lift
Land Combat and Amphibious Warfare
Strike and Air Combat
Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface Warfare
Table 5.2:  

Table 5.3:  Enabler Performance Recommendations: July 2013 - April 2017
Base Services
Capability Investment and Sustainment - Reform
Capability Investment and Sustainment – Test and Evaluation
Defence Industry Support
Disposal of Specialist Military Equipment
Essential National Infrastructure - Munitions
Estate and Infrastructure - Asset Management
Estate and Infrastructure - Firefighting foam contamination
Financial Management - Credit and other Transaction Cards
Science and Technology

Committee Comment

The Committee notes that the current reporting regime the Department of Defence is directed to meet is disaggregated and cumbersome; resulting in no single identity or organisation being responsibility for oversight of the Department.
The Defence Sub-Committee of the JSCFADT through the new methodology to review Defence Annual Reports will work with Defence and the Committees of Parliament to incorporate major projects, sustainment, health, workforce and other oversight of the Department into either a single review, or a multi-volume synchronised report that enables broad, longitudinal oversight of the Department.

New Methodology to Review the Department of Defence Annual Report

Throughout the Review of the Department of Defence Annual Report 2015-16, the Committee observed a depth, breadth and rate of reform unprecedented in the Department. The Department has made substantial efforts to implement the recommendation of the First Principles Review and to modernise and reform. This demonstrable change has led to the Committee adopting a new methodology to achieve better longitudinal parliamentary oversight of the Department’s performance through future reviews of the Department’s Annual Reports.
The new methodology, shown diagrammatically in Figure 5.1, will adopt a cyclic, longitudinal approach to parliamentary oversight by the Defence Sub-Committee of the JSCFADT. The cycle follows:
Defence presents the annual report to Parliament.
Committee adopts an inquiry into annual report and invites the Department of Defence to provide 1st six-monthly report against performance matrices.
The Department of Defence presents 1st six-monthly report, 1st hearing held and follow up QoNs submitted as required.
Committee presents the 1st report of the Department of Defence Annual Report to Parliament (not necessarily lengthy but focussed on issues of concern arising from Department’s report and responses at hearing/QoNs) – Divergence from agreed matrices.
Six months after the Department of Defence’s 1st report against the matrices the Department provides 2nd six-monthly report.
Report received from the Department of Defence and 2nd (in-camera) hearing held – follow up QoNs submitted as required.
2nd report of the Department of Defence Annual Report presented to Parliament – Committee may address other issues in either the 1st or 2nd report on the Annual Report as it sees fit.
The Department of Defence presents next annual report to Parliament – cycle begins again, same reporting matrices used to ensure continuity and consistent treatment of issues.

Figure 5.1:  New Methodology to Review Defence Annual Reports

Defence Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
The Committee intends to work with the Department of Defence to implement this methodology for the Review of Defence Annual Report 201617.
Senator David FawcettSenator Linda Reynolds, CSC
Joint Standing Committee on Defence Sub-Committee
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

  • 1
    Defence Question on Notice (QoN) Response No. 1, for JSCFADT QoN No. 3, 22 Jun 17
  • 2
    Defence Question on Notice (QoN) Response No. 4, for JSCFADT QoN No. 7, 10 Apr 17

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