The Defence Act 1903 provides the principal legislative basis on which the defence organisation rests, particularly with respect to the administration of the Defence Force. The administration of the civilian staff and the management of public monies have their legislative bases in the Public Service Act and the Audit Act respectively. Under the Defence Act. the Governor-General has the power to appoint an officer of... the Defence Forces to be the Chief of the Defence Force Staff, and officers of the individual Services to be heads of the relevant arms of the Defence Force. In carrying out these functions, the Governor-General acts on the advice of Ministers, in accordance with the conventions of responsible Government.
As we saw above, the overall control of Ihe Defence function is vested in the Minister for Defence. Section 8 of the Defence Act provides that the powers exercised by the Service Chiefs shall be subject to and in accordance with any directions of the Minister'. Under Section 9(3) of Ihe Defence Act. the Chief of the Defence Force is required to advise the Minister in such a manner as the Minister directs, on matters relating to the command... of the Delence Force'. As noted above the CDF is jointly responsible with the Secretary for the administration of the Defence Force, except in matters falling within his command responsibilities or those of the Service Chiefs. The Defence Act outlines quite comprehensively all the powers of the Chief of the Defence Force and the Service Chiefs. The powers of the Secretary, however, are left somewhat vague. Under the Public Service Act the Secretary of a Department is responsible for its general working and for all the business overall' and to advise the Minister in all matters relating to the Department'. These responsibilities are not further defined.
To clarify these various responsibilities in more precise terms the Minister for Defence issues a specific directive to the Secretary, the CDF, and various other senior officials and Sen/ice officers