The Government has mislead Australians by stating yesterday that the Rizzo Report’s recommendation “that Navy engineering be rebuilt and reorganised” had already been implemented.
Director of APESMA’s ACT branch David Smith said Navy engineering had not been rebuilt or reorganised and in fact the Australian Navy’s civilian engineering numbers had also not been increased.
“Australia’s modern defence systems need talented engineers,” Mr Smith said.
“Despite the Rizzo review finding that Defence desperately needs more engineering talent the Government has stalled on the recommendation and is now trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.
“Instead of engineering numbers going up the recent budget has caused cuts to the number of non-ongoing engineering staff putting further stress on the Navy’s already thin engineering resources.
“The Navy has also halted recruitment for important engineering roles.
“These cutbacks are being felt already with increasing workloads and an increasing risk liability borne by engineers.”
Last year the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Griggs, acknowledged that the past practices used to attract and retain engineers needed to be junked given the current engineering skills shortage, saying:
“We have for far too long viewed engineering as an overhead and not as a mission enabler. Overheads end up being cut and not invested in. In correcting this we face significant competition with other organisations around the country seeking engineering talent. We are all fighting to attract and retain the same technical talent pool.”
Despite this statement the investment in skills hasn’t occurred and the Navy’s engineering positions are still being cut or remaining vacant.
“How many more ships need to fall over before we take these issues seriously?” Mr Smith said.
“Not only has ongoing civilian Navy engineering flat lined at existing levels but the Navy has just lost a number of non-ongoing staff as a result of implementation of budget measures and recruitment to many vacant engineering roles has been halted both at the DMO and the Navy.”
Mr Smith called on the Commonwealth Government to take immediate action to increase engineering numbers at the Australian Navy in line with the Rizzo report.