Monday, August 12, 2013

Defence post

"Overgoverned?! We've even got a Minister for Air."

Such jest finds little concordance with the real purpose of this portfolio; our defence force taking to the skies. Beginning at the outbreak of the Second World War,  a Minister for Air and a Minister for the Army.

Minister for the Navy had first been a designation in 1915, suggesting the kind of involvement a nation like ours could make in those circumstances. When the position bobbed up again, along with the introduction of the other two, there had been eighteen years weighed anchor.

Arthur Drakeford ruled the Air, in control for eight years during the turbulent WWII period. Meanwhile Dudley Erwin stayed airborne for only a few months. He is bookended in that same year, 1969, by Gordon Freeth and Tom Drake-Brockman.

Josiah Francis was in charge of the Army for six years, John Cramer managed seven.

For a colourful character still on the political landscape, guess which other (this time Country Party) member followed Phillip Lynch and Andrew Peacock into the barracks? None other than Bob Katter.

The navy tradition dates back to the First World War, Jens Jensen at the wheel. This first Navy portfolio was then managed by Joseph Cook and William Laird Smith.

The assigning of the armed forces to different arms of executive drew to a halt with Lance (corporal) Barnard in 1973.


As always with the military, there are a number of subsidiary ministries and support services. Defence personnel have their own minister and it wasn't some cadet misspelling the signs for Department of Defence Materiel. Turns out that material with an e is something different but it doesn't appear to be. A quaint lexical tic perhaps.

And, while welfare wasn't factored in federation, there is now a well established Department of Veterans' Affairs.


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