Senator Fraser Anning is like the Steven Bradbury of politics.
He’s the guy who replaced the guy who was sitting in the Senate because of Pauline’s Hanson name.
And I say that with all due to respect to Malcolm Roberts who was a fine performer in the parliament.
But Senator Anning is there because everyone else fell over. And last night he showed why it is a good thing for our parliament have an ordinary nobody in there asking questions.
It was Senate Estimates. And the topic was Defence.
On one side was the Chief of Army, Angus Campbell. He was confident, cocky and condescending.
On the other side was Senator Fraser Anning, the grazier from Queensland. He was coughing and clearing his throat. No doubt, he is more comfortable at home with his cows than in a committee in Canberra.
And surrounding them was the sycophantic crowd praising the naked emperor’s clothing.
It takes courage to walk into that room and ask the questions that no one wants to hear. But Fraser Anning did just that.
He looked at the Chief of Army and asked if Defence had ever commissioned a study to determine whether placing females in combat roles would increase Defence capability.
The answer: no.
And then, when the Chief of Army claimed that there were no quotas for women, Anning asked why the Chief of Army had previously informed the Senate that the recruiting targets for females had not been met.
The answer: there are no ‘quotas’ and instead the Army simply won’t recruit males unless no female is found within six weeks of the job opening up.
See for yourself.
Here is Senator Fraser Anning getting the Chief of Army to admit that he has no research to back his claim that front line females increase capability:
And here he is again, calling out the Chief of Army over his assertion that there are no quotas:
These answers given to Senate Estimates last night should shock the nation. And they come just days after the Army also informed Senate Estimates that just 24 of the 154 females recruited for an infantry role have passed their basic training courses:
Please provide a breakdown of Reserve/Full Time females who were recruited into the Army for a role as a Rifleman:
a. How many commenced via the Army Pre-Conditioning Program?
b. How many completed the Army Pre-Conditioning Program?
c. How many commenced the Recruit Training Course at Kapooka?
d. How many completed the Recruit Training Course at Kapooka?
e. How many commenced Infantry Initial Employment Training?
f. How many completed Infantry Initial Employment Training?
The Army Pre-Conditioning Program is designed to assist women to meet the general entry-level fitness standards and build resilience to successfully complete the Army Recruit Course.
The Army Recruit Course is designed to prepare and train recruits to be soldiers in the Australian Army and commence their respective Initial Employment Training. Initial Employment Training is designed to train soldiers in their Employment Category or trade.
c. Army Pre-Conditioning Program: Eight. Australian Regular Army: 95. Army Reserve: 49.
d. Army Pre-Conditioning Program: Five. Australian Regular Army: 39. Army Reserve: 28.
e. Army Pre-Conditioning Program: Five. Australian Regular Army: 39. Army Reserve: 28.
f. Army Pre-Conditioning Program: Nil. Australian Regular Army: Ten. Army Reserve: 14
For the last six years, the Army has embarked on a costly and politically-correct crusade to bring females into the infantry.
It has been done on an assumption and without any research. And to make it happen, blokes have been told to go away.
It takes, on average, almost eight months for a male to join the Army. And the Chief of Army has just let them know that they won’t get a look in if a female applies before them and punches out eight push ups at a recruiting centre.
If they can’t manage that, women can still take a position via the Army Pre-Conditioning Program, which will give them 49 days of paid training to help them reach that target. It’s almost one week of training per push up.
True, if no woman can be found, men will be contacted six weeks prior to the position opening up and offered a job. But after waiting for months, for many this will be pointless. They’ll have already found a job doing something else.
The Chief of Army claims that this system is helping Defence secure the best talent possible. The reality is that it is turning talent away.
Our military is weaker for it.
Last night the clichés rolled. Angus Campbell told the Senate that half the nation’s talent was in its female population. Following that logic and the Army might as well recruit everyone and grab all the talent on offer.
No one denies that females are talented.
But the infantry requires specific talents: strength, endurance and fitness. And Defence’s own statistics show that when it comes to these talents, females can’t compete.
Of the 154 women recruited for infantry since 2016, just 24 have passed basic infantry training. Already 25% of those have been medically downgraded.
And every single female recruited for an infantry role via the Army’s vaunted Pre-Conditioning Program has failed to qualify as an infantry soldier.
When asked if the Army concedes that this program has been a failure for the infantry, the Chief of Army said no.
In terms of success, this program has been an utter disaster. It is a barren wasteland with a 100% failure rate. Yet the Chief of Army claims it is working. He sounds like this guy (and you wouldn’t want him running our military):
Taxpayers are wearing the burden of this costly program.
Millions have been spent on advertising to make it happen. Millions more have been spent on squandered training days.
And the unit which is receiving these women is now in the process of sacking almost as many male soldiers due to comments they have made about women on Facebook.
In the big picture, every single dollar spent has been wasted with absolutely zero increase to capability, while those who could increase it have been turned away.
That’s bad enough. On the financial figures alone, the program should be scrapped.
Making it worse is the fact that standards have been dropped. And that means capability has actually been diminished.
Comments from recruit instructors or those at the School of Infantry make it clear that assessments are no longer as rigorous as they once were, just to enable females to pass. Consequently, the quality of male soldiers will also decrease.
And worst of all is that this entire program has been based on a politically-correct assumption. No research has been done at all.
There is no data to back the Chief of Army’s claim that female infantry soldiers increase capability, unit cohesion or the ability to win on the battlefield.
And the Chief of Army has no idea whether those women who do get through will not suffer an increased risk of long-term health consequences over their male counterparts.
If any other organisation embarked on such a program without any due diligence it would be rightly described as negligence.
Unfortunately, the Army is not any other organisation. It is not a business that this nation can afford to fail because it embarks on some politically-correct flight of fancy.
Yet it is being eroded before our very eyes, while the crowd bays for the emperor to walk back down the cat walk.
You can watch the entirety of Senator Anning’s questions to the Chief of Army below: