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Maritime Logistics Community News : Autumn 2010
34 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER AUTUMN 2010 Monday, 14 September 2009 the House of Representatives bells sounded throughout Parliament House, a division had been called - the action stations of the 'House of Reps' to a formal vote on a matter before the House. It's early and the 'house' is a buzz with energy, most of it my nervous energy. I along with my 14 colleagues watch as Members from the southern wing of Parliament House make their way in an orderly but determined fashion towards the Chambers before the Chamber doors are sealed. As an outsider looking in, one got the sneaky suspicion that it was going to be a long and busy week, particularly noting that the Carbon Emissions and interim Legislation in relation to the DFDA where before the Parliament. The purpose of the ADF Parliamentary (Exchange) Program (ADFPP) is to provide Parliamentary Members and Senators with practical experience of the ADF so that they can play a more informed and constructive part in the Defence debate having gained an insight into the challenges of Service life through participation in tailored programs within the three Services. Selected members of the Australian Defence Force are inturn attached to Parliament House for a week to observe the workings of Government and spend time observing and participating in the daily work schedule of individual parliamentarians (usually Members or Senators who have participated in Program attachments). Six officers were attached in 2004 and the exchange is now a permanent part of the ADFPP, having expanded to 15 Defence personnel from all ranks. Following my selection I was advised by Navy Strategic Command that I was to be attached to the office of Mr Shaun Newman, the Federal Member for Blair. Mr Neumann was elected to Government with the Australian Labour Party in 2007, and gave his maiden speech to the House of Representatives on 21 February 2008. Mr Neumann's 2009 ADFPP Navy attachment saw him visit HMAS Albatross and Creswell. The reciprocal element of the exchange commenced with introductory addresses from the co-sponsors, the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Hurley AC, DSC, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, the Honourable Dr Mike Kelly AM MP. Of the 15 participants, Navy were afforded five positions which were filled by CMDR Guy Blackburn, LCDR Robyn Phillips, LCDR James Lybrand, LS Trish Dollisson, and myself. 2009 marked the first year that sailors were selected. I was extremely humbled to be selected representing not only the sailor community, but also our Supply community. In the past positions were generally afforded to members employed within strategic headquarters positions. The logic behind the program was that the forenoon would be spent in the initial days learning about the operations of APH, with the afternoons, and the latter days spent shadowing our host, and their staff to gain an understanding of their role, and more broadly that of the Government. Following the formal welcome by VCDF, Parliamentary Secretary, and a tour of the inner sanctum of APH, the remainder of the morning was spent in the safe custody of Officers from the House of Representatives who explained the functioning of the House, it formation, and powers. The program officially concluded day Question Time that day was spent in the Speaker's guest gallery. Functional and logical in design, APH is divided into two wings, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, joined by the Ministerial Wing and public areas in the centre. On return from Question time, one might say that I got, ummm, lost. Somehow I managed to locate Aussie Cafe, the unofficial cafe below the public area within APH, and almost literally ran into Mrs Bronwyn Bishop, former Minister for Defence under the previous Coalition Government. Having gotten over my initial star-stuckness, re- established some coordination, and found my bearings, I continued onto Mr Neumann's office to meet up with him after Question Time. To my surprise the day was not yet over; a number of appointments were scheduled including the attendance at the official launch of the Magna Carta exhibition by the President of the Senate within one of the public areas within APH. The reality and gravity of my exposure as a participant in the ADFPP sunk in when Mr Neumann personally introduced me to the host, the President of the Senate, and also to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. A Facebook update ensued! A similar program was provided on the second day by Officers of the Senate, which concluded again as guests of the President of the Senate during Question time. When not attached to Mr Neumann the remainder of the week was spent conducting information and discussion sessions with various offices within APH, including a roundtable meeting with the Minister for Defence, the Honourable Senator Faulker, and his Ministerial staff. The highlights of the week without a doubt were: • Attending the Australian War Memorial as a guest of Mr Neumann's to lay a wreath on the tomb of the unknown Australian soldier along with students from a school in his electorate of Blair; •• Unfiltered access to the Minister for Defence, and his Parliamentary Secretary; and •• Witnessing the valedictory speech of Dr Brendan Nelson, former Minister of Defence from within APH. To most, the functioning of the building 'across the lake' (referring to APH, as it is geographically located within the Parliamentary triangle across Sound the Bells ... An insight into the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Exchange Program BY CHIEF PETTY OFFICER ANDY MASKELL