The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP,
Minister for Defence

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20 Mar 2008

MIN22/08
Day, Date Month Year

 

TRANSCRIPT OF DEFENCE service chief appointments

 

Subject: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, announces the new Defence senior leadership team

 

E&OE

 

KEVIN RUDD:

I've called this news conference today to announce the new senior leadership team of the Australian Defence force.

 

I'm pleased to say today that Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, will be reappointed as the Chief of the Defence Force, and will continue to command the Australian Defence Force for another three years.

 

The government has great confidence in his leadership and in the performance of our servicemen and women.

 

His reappointment of Chief of Defence Force will ensure a continuity of leadership for Australia's military during a high operational tempo, and reflects on the great work being done by the ADF.

 

I'm also pleased to announce a number of other senior military appointments.

 

Lieutenant General David Hurley, currently the Chief of Joint Operations will be appointed as the new Vice Chief of Defence Force.

 

Rear Admiral Russell Crane, recently the Deputy Chief of Navy, will be promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral, and appointed as the new Chief of Navy.

 

Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, the current Vice Chief of the Defence Force will be appointed as the new Chief of Army.

Air Vice Marshal Mark Binskin, currently Air Commander Australia, will be promoted to the rank of Air Marshal, and appointed as the new Chief of Air Force.

 

These senior service appointments will take effect from 4 July this year, and will be for a period of three years.

 

Each of them, that is the Vice Chief of Defence Force, the Chief of Navy, the Chief of Army, and the Chief of Air Force have been recommendations made to the government by Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the CDF. We've accepted his recommendations.

 

I would like to thank the outgoing service chiefs who will be retiring from their respective services.

 

Vice Admiral Russ Shalders has been the Chief of Navy for the last three years, and before that he was Vice Chief of the Defence Force. He has served in the Navy for more than 40 years, having joined as a cadet midshipman in 1967.

 

Under his command, the Navy has met its many operational commitments. And I salute his service.

 

Lieutenant General Peter Leahy has served two terms, a total of six years, as the Chief of Army. He is the longest continuously serving head of the Army since General Sir Harry Chauvel in the 1920s.

 

During the last six years he has commanded the Army during one of its busiest times of operations. He has also been instrumental in preparing the Army for the future through the hardening and networking Army initiative aimed at modernising our Army, and enhancing the land force with two additional battalion groups.

 

Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd has served as the Chief of Air Force for the past three years. He's had a distinguished career as a fighter pilot, and has held a number of senior command appointments.

 

He leaves the Royal Australian Air Force in good shape, and recruit, recruiting and retention at good levels with no critical categories.

 

I want to pay tribute to Admiral Shalders, General Leahy, and Air Marshal Shepherd, for their hard work, their dedication and their commitment to defending Australia.

 

On behalf of the government and the people of Australia I thank them for their many years of dedicated service to the nation.

 

I also want to congratulate the new leadership team on their appointments.

 

This team has strong credentials and experience in leadership and management in a joint operational environment.

 

They are well placed to assist the Australian Government to meet our security policy challenges into the future.

 

And the Defence Minister and I look forward to working with them in their respective roles into the future.

 

National security is fundamental business for the nation. It is fundamental business for the government of the nation.

 

And as I have said before, there is no higher calling for the nation than that which, than that which we see with our men and women in uniform.

 

I salute their service - the men and women of the ADF. I salute their leadership. I salute those who are retiring from leadership positions, as I do the service of those who we now appoint to these senior and most responsible missions within the Australian Defence Force.

 

I might now turn to the, to the CDF for some remarks, and then I'll ask the Defence Minister to add.

 

AIR CHIEF MARSHAL ANGUS HOUSTON:     

Thank you Prime Minister.

 

Can I start by saying I'm, I'm deeply honoured to be appointed for a further three years; and I thank the Prime Minister and the Minister for their trust and faith in me.

 

I should say right at the outset, I'm humbled by the fact that I will continue to lead the people of the ADF.

 

It's the people of the ADF who have achieved remarkable outcomes over the last three years. It's incredible what they've done on operations around the world, and of course that challenge will continue through the next three years.

 

So my priority will continue to be looking after the people and ensuring that we, we retain them and their families so that we have an ADF that can meet those challenges now and into the future.

 

I'd like to congratulate the new leadership team. General Hurley, Admiral Crane, General Gillespie, and Air Marshal Binskin.

 

They are a very experienced group of officers and they will form a very cohesive and effective team.

 

I'd also like to take this opportunity to recognise the great work that the outgoing chiefs have done.

General Leahy, Air Marshal Shepherd, and Admiral Shalders. To a large extent, the reason we have been so successful in operations is because of the incredible emphasis that the chiefs have had on the professional standards of their people, and also the intense preparation that's gone in to the preparation of our people before they go away on operations.

 

So, to all three of those, I say a very sincere thank you, and I wish them well for the future.

 

Thank you very much Prime Minister.

 

The ADF is a great force, and I think behind us we have the team to lead us into that future.

 

Thank you.

 

KEVIN RUDD:

Defence Minister.

 

JOEL FITZGIBBON:

Thanks Prime Minister.

 

Of course I want to join with the Prime Minister in congratulating Angus on his reappointment, and congratulating the, the rest of the new leadership team.

 

We have great challenges before us, and I look forward to working with them. I have great confidence in them.

 

Those challenges are many, but, I've said on a number of occasions, it's my view, and I think it's the view of the government, that the single biggest challenge facing the Australian Defence Force in the future is our people and skills shortage. And on that basis, I have asked the new leadership team to make this a particular focus.

 

In addition to training and sustaining their respective services, each service chief will be directly responsible for ensuring that sufficient trained and skilled personnel are available.

 

It is only through the force of strong and professional leadership that this goal will be achieved.

 

Each service chief will report to the Chief of the Defence Force, to the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, and through us, to the Prime Minister and the national security committee of the Cabinet.

 

Every three months, or more if required, the service chiefs will spell out in detail the progress they have made in meeting the exacting requirements of their respective services for skilled trades and professions.

This will require tireless effort and tight focus on the part of each service chief. It is a tough challenge in the face of almost full employment, and a booming mining industry.

 

However, there is no choice but to succeed. The best available military equipment is of little use without sufficient high quality personnel to operate and sustain it. Again, I have great confidence in them in progressing this very important issue and I will look forward to working with them.

 

 

 

Media contacts:

Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon):  02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567

Defence Media Liaison:  02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

 

 

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