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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 December 2015
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 2015 Outsourced: who is running Defence procurement? NICK XENOPHON Who would have thought that Sergeant Schultz was guiding Australia's Defence Department? Because, like the bumbling sergeant from Hogan's Heroes, Defence seems to live by his "I see nothing! I know nothing!" motto. The latest revelations that Defence has spent $21 million on the US Navy and over $18 million on big-endof-town consulting firms for advice on Australia's future submarine project beggars belief. It also begs a couple of big questions. First, with its $32 billion budget and 76,000 personnel, why couldn't Defence find experts within its own ranks rather than outsiders telling us what they ought to be able to work out for themselves? Secondly, if Defence lacks so much confidence to do its own thinking, what does that say about their ability to make the big decisions necessary for our nation's defence? Because, no matter how big Defence's budget is, or how much firepower it has, unless the hardware is matched with smart thinking we're in trouble. Defence has a long and sorry history of not only squandering billions, but also the opportunity to strengthen our nation's defences. Bronwyn Bishop rightly copped a caning for that $5,000 helicopter ride, and eventually resigned as Speaker. But Defence barely got slapped by a wet lettuce leaf when it blew $1 billion on the Seasprite helicopter debacle. The US-built choppers that were meant to be at the frontline of our defence were not safe to fly because of botched modifications Australian Defence officials insisted on. An Auditor-General's investigation found that Defence's excuses didn't fly either. And a lazy $40 million evaporated when Defence approved the building of six amphibious craft that were too wide for the ship they were supposed to be deployed from. The more recent Air Warfare Destroyer cost blowout was, contrary to the government's finger-pointing at ASC, due in large part to poor decisions and planning within Defence. And in the irony of ironies, hundreds of millions were wasted on the Air Force's early warning aircraft system, because Defence itself failed to see the early warning signs of a botched program. Recently I was in Singapore (at my expense, not yours) talking to their defence experts on how they procure defence equipment. This tiny island state has emerged from swampy backwater to an economic and defence powerhouse in the last 50 years. The numbers tell the story. Singapore's defence budget is $9 billion compared to Australia's $32 billion. It has four submarines compared to our six. Singapore has 12 naval warships, while Australia has 11 ageing frigates. Singapore has 120 fighter jets compared to our 95, and four early warning aircraft compared to our six. Coping mechanisms are essential for grisly job Lee Iordanidis has learnt how to manage her difficult surroundings in the 11 years she has been involved in forensic cleaning. A job which entails cleaning up murder, suicide or death scenes, it's one that doesn't strike the ideals of most people. Prompted by a family friend's son who committed suicide, Iordanidis told news. com.au her work is so uninviting only four people in the country do it, but her need to help her friend spurred her to pursue the career path. "Police [said] she would have to clean it up and her face was just one of horror, the view was terrible, the flies and maggots were terrible, so I said 'I have to do this for her and for him'," she said. "I went off to Bunnings and bought rubber boots, gloves and a dust mask - that did nothing - and cleaned it up. "It's not how we would do it now, but I did the best I could without knowing what was the right way to do it at the time." She explained she copes with the horrific scenes as a result of enduring a lot of death throughout her life, and her compassionate husband (along with her dark sense of humour) offers her a beacon of support to get her through the difficulties of her profession, which is often exacerbated when she sees a visual of the person she's cleaning up after. Tasks are often as physically demanding as they are psychologically, with a lot of heavy lifting and handling involved with her line of work, including discarding contaminated materials - with jobs taking anywhere between one day to six weeks depending on their size. And sometimes her work hits too close to home. "I went to one job for a man who died from suicide and realised his mum and my mum were close friends and I had played with this boy as a child … that was really hard," she told news.com.au "There was another job where a father … killed his little child. He died on the way to hospital. "I went and hugged my nieces and nephews and told them how much I loved them after that." But all too often the smell of death is one she cannot escape. "The body breaks down and fills with gases, turns a different colour and starts to smell and attract flies that lay maggots in it," she said. "We have to disinfect everything, throw away soft covered furniture, clean walls, ceilings, fans and even the airconditioner filter. "It gets into everything. "I've come home and had showers upon showers and I still say I can smell it." Source: news.com.au Japanese government officials meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne last weekend. Japan is in the running for a $50 billion contract to build Australia’s next generation of submarines. And as for on-the-ground presence, Singapore has 72,000 active soldiers and well over 150 battle tanks, compared to Australia's 28,500 active soldiers and 59 tanks. Australia's subs project highlights a stark contrast. Singapore signed contracts within two years of launching their future submarine program in 2012, while six years down the track Australia is nowhere near signing a contract for anything. So far, Defence has spent $200 million on ‘paper shuffling’ for the subs. It includes more than $10 million on Swedish ‘intellectual property’ that will never be used (why does ABBA's Money, Money, Money come to mind?). It's time that Defence had a rocket put up under it (so long as they're not responsible for procuring it), and I really hope that the new Defence Minister Marise Payne is the person to do it. Otherwise, Sergeant Schultz's boss, Colonel Klink, may as well be running the joint. This article originally appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser. Melbourne poised for rooftop sport Growing CBD population leading to innovative thinking for social activities JOHN PYRROS Melbourne's skyline is set to change, according to a recent report, as councils consider new approaches in dealing with the city's booming population, which is set to tip 180,000 by 2031. According to the Herald Sun, the increase will lead to a shortfall of 12 sports ovals, 12 soccer fields, 10 indoor sports fields and one bowling green. Councils are now considering the viability of holding sporting events on inner-city rooftops to revitalise Melbourne's skyline and help alleviate increasing pressures Melbourne’s CBD rooftops might get a facelift under a radical plan. PHOTO: AAP IMAGE/SIMON MOSSMAN. associated with overcrowding. The suggestion is receiving positive feedback from business owners and workers within the CBD area who say the innovative idea will save space, regenerate the city and create more social settings for people in the area. Managing Partner at Moray & Agnew Lawyers Bill Papastergiadis is one of those heralding the idea. "It makes sense and I think it's a way going forward for utilising space in an urban jungle to create a green aes- thetic and a calming influence for workers and also residents and an opportunity for people to get fit. "My firm, Moray Agnew Lawyers ... made the decision to come to the building where we are at the moment for the sole reason that we would have access to the rooftop garden for all of our staff and all of our events and it's a hit." Five inner-city councils, including Melbourne's, will hire a consultant to consider all available options for utilising space. DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM PHOTO: PETER PARKS/AP.
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