28 November 2023

Senate committee to conduct Inquiry into 2022-23 Defence Annual Report

| Andrew McLaughlin
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David Shoebridge at Senate hearings

Greens Senator David Shoebridge questions Defence officials during Senate Committee hearings. Photo: Screenshot.

The Defence Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade has called for a new Inquiry into the Department of Defence Annual Report 2022-23.

Inquiries occur most years as they give the Senate committee an opportunity to review the annual report and question senior Defence officials, politicians, and public servants in a public forum.

The terms of reference for the inquiry will include:

  • Australia’s assistance to Ukraine. “The Subcommittee is interested in examining Australia’s response to this crisis; specifically, the facilitation of military aid focussed on platforms, munitions, and the contribution to Operation Kudu, which is the ADF commitment to the training of armed forces of Ukraine recruits in the United Kingdom.”
  • The Defence health system. The Subcommittee is interested in analysing Defence’s approach to health care, considering the recent report by the Auditor-General and current performance issues. This line of inquiry will focus on the general architecture of its uniformed and contracted health-related capabilities, supporting both current personnel and the recruitment function, and the interrelationship with external providers.
  • The capability assurance mechanism. The Subcommittee is interested in reviewing Defence’s approach to capability assurance including ‘test and evaluation’ and how that impacts and informs accountability and risk identification considering case studies to identify potential systemic issues for attention.
  • Artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons-related issues. The Subcommittee is interested in examining the role of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Weapons within the ADF and the requisite policy settings that need to account for and address relevant moral, legal, ethical, and regulatory matters within Australia and internationally.
  • Armaments manufacture, procurement, and inventory. The subcommittee is interested in examining the plans and process for the acquisition of specific munitions from coalition partners, the requirements to enable domestic manufacturing and storage, and the comparison of current stock holdings versus what is required during high-intensity conflict.

The subcommittee also reserves the right to question Defence on any other issues as they arise.

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Submissions are welcome from individuals, industry, and Defence members and can be submitted through this portal. Information on preparing a submission is available on the Parliamentary Committee webpage.

The initial round of hearings will likely be held in the last week of May and the first week of June 2024, with follow-up hearings often held later in the year.

For reference, a record of the inquiry into the 2021-22 Defence Annual Report – including submissions and hearing transcripts – can be found here.

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