Opinion articles by the Australia Defence Association: 2016-17

Properly ministering to our defence force

Appropriate ministerial supervision of the Defence portfolio has long faced significant structural barriers to good governance, including an insufficient number of ministers, diluting the focus and workload of junior ministers by double-hatting them in other portfolios, and constant arbitrary changes to the functional responsibilities and even titles of junior ministers. These and other structural problems generally occur because party and factional politics, and short-term political expediency, are prioritised over good governance and the long-term business continuity needed for national defence as a major responsibility of any government. Particularly when this responsibility needs an above-politics and indisputably national-interest focus over a very long term. Governments of all political persuasions need to put much more thought and action into the needs of adequate portfolio governance, particularly how they allocate ministers to the Defence portfolio and how they structure such ministerial supervision in terms of both numbers and responsibilities. Rather than as usually occurs - and based solely or chiefly on political convenience - focusing just on who they can appoint and how few they can get away with appointing without it looking too embarrassing.

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