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‘Accountants in Cairns’ and culture change needed to boost Australian Defence

Feb 20, 2024

AUSTRALIAN Defence’s culture needs to be examined as much as its ageing and underwhelming equipment Katter’s Australian Party MP Bob Katter says, who has proposed “accountants in Cairns,” Far North Queensland could prop up Navy numbers in response to concerns of “weak borders”.

Responding to reports a new fleet of “smaller” warships are set to be announced by the Federal Government after its strategic review found the Navy had “a lack of firepower” and “not enough crew,” Mr Katter said Defence’s leadership also needed to be scrutinised for dwindling personnel retention. [1]

“Not just the Navy, but across the Defence Force – when you have leadership more concerned about ideological issues like gender equality or, pandering to the needs and wants of minority groups and making them feel more comfortable, is it any wonder our numbers are falling,” Mr Katter said.

“Or when you have leadership, where if you shoot an enemy in war, and you end up on charges of war crimes, the leadership will back the courts before they back you.

“Or when you give your Navy crews, who are supposed to defend our borders – a series of drones and patrol boats, with an ordinance of just 15 machine guns – is it any surprise we’re now being told ‘we’re too slow to in our response to China’s growth in this space’.”

Mr Katter said while he accepted new ships couldn’t be built overnight, policy changes to Defence culture and recruitment could have an immediate impact.

The former militia soldier called for the recruitment of private sector workers in Cairns and the Far North region – a region of strategic significance given its proximity to Pacific nations and China.

“Why can’t they use militia on the boats too?

“You only need a few technical experts – and then you hire people like diesel fitters and marine engineers from the private sector in Cairns.

“Plus to man the boats, are you telling me an accountant in Cairns wouldn’t want to go sailing around for a few months – you get away from your wife, you get away from work, additional pay. So don’t tell me you can’t get crew, because you can.

“But some people just don’t want to go into the Navy fulltime. There would be plenty of blokes who would want to do their bit but don’t want to go full-time into defence.”

[1] New warships to boost firepower in review of navy surface fleet | The Australian