After months of poor judgement, foolish comments, bungles and mismanagement, it is time for the Prime Minister to intervene and remove David Johnston as the Government’s Minister for Defence.
After months of poor judgement, foolish comments, bungles and mismanagement, it is time for the Prime Minister to intervene and remove David Johnston as the Government’s Minister for Defence – particularly given the significance of the impending Government decisions on whether to continue to build submarines in Australia, expected within the next month.
Professionals Australia director David Smith said that the Minister’s comments in the Senate in the past two days were “unprofessional and disappointing” however, he said the Minister had managed to offend large sections of the Defence workforce with his approach and ill-considered comments over many months.
Professionals Australia represents private and public sector Defence engineers and scientists and Mr Smith said that “significant numbers of our members have lost confidence in the capacity of the Minister. He might think he can’t trust the ASC to build a canoe, but they can’t trust him to run our Defence organisation.”
“Our concern is that Minister Johnston’s comments hopelessly compromise him in making a sensible decision on the future of our submarine program, which is expected in the next month. It is time for the Minister to step aside and ensure that how we build submarines goes properly to competitive tender.
“In May, this Minister labelled Defence public servants facing job losses as “a bit fat and happy”, more recently he created chaos by presenting ADF personnel with an insultingly low pay deal – at a time of deployment in Iraq, and this week he has seen fit to sledge our submarine builders. It is hard to imagine who might be next.
“It is completely untenable for the Minister to remain in the portfolio, given he has no working relationships with any of the civilian, ADF or contractor workforces in Defence.
“The Minister’s poor leadership and cavalier lack of judgement is a stark contrast to the professionalism shown by our troops, our engineers and intelligence analysts, and the workers that build our ships and submarines – everyday.
“Defence is on a precipice. Morale is at an all-time low, significant decisions about our submarines and ships are pending, the First Principles Review is just beginning – this is a time for leadership, not buffoonery that insults and isolates the people that keep our country safe.
“We call on the Prime Minister to intervene and get Defence back on track.
“The Prime Minister can step in and save Australian jobs, ensure uniform and civilian staff are respected and stop the waste and mismanagement by rebuilding vital engineering capacity that will enable us to build the ships and submarines our country needs and employ thousands of Australians.
“This is a Minister clearly out of his depth. In the interests of our national security and the future of thousands of jobs across our economy, the Prime Minister must intervene and find a better candidate.