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Defence Force changes 'smooth' - government

Friday 9 Mar 2012 6:24 a.m.

By 3 News staff

The government says cost-saving measures in the Defence Force are going smoothly, despite a top official saying they have wrecked morale within the force.

A total of 304 uniformed jobs have been turned into civilian roles in a cost-cutting measure.

A second stage - affecting 130 military specialists - has been axed because the vice chief of Defence says the process is too traumatic for staff.

Rear Admiral Jack Steer says defence force personnel “felt like we'd let them down, that we weren't looking after them, that we had broken a social contract”.

But Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman was unaware of what his Defence chief was telling MPs – he thinks the changes have “actually gone through pretty smoothly overall”.

However, there have been some problems with civilianisation process when two senior ranking naval officers who had been culled had to be brought back into uniform a couple of months later, having already banked their $50,000 redundancy cheques.

This financial year the Defence Force expects the cuts to save them $142 million dollars - in the financial year after next the savings are expected to total $355 million.

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