Incoming CAF - Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, AO, DSC

11 September 2019


Good Morning everyone.

I'd first like to acknowledge and welcome the Minister for Defence, the Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, the Chief of Defence Force, the Associate Secretary representing the Secretary, the service Chiefs and colleagues that I'll be working with. In particular, the Chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and also the other group heads within our department. Our past Chiefs, multiple defence attaches. Men and Woman of the Air Force. Family, friends, old mates, distinguished guests and ladies and gentleman. I'd like to also acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of this land where we are conducting this ceremony this morning and I would like to pay my respect to their elders, past, present and emerging. And I'd just add my very sincere thanks to Arnie Bauer(*) and Wing Commander Jonathan Lily. What an impressive, deep and inspiring sound that, that didgeridoo provides for us this morning as we start the change of command. To all, welcome. I was going to say to a cool- this cool and crisp morning but it's actually turning out pretty nicely. At 7.5 degrees that's a record, for one of these change of command ceremonies. 

But most importantly, my wife Louise and I would like to thank all of you for sharing this parade and this event with us, as we take command of this Air Force. Lou and I are both very humbled and privileged to have been given this opportunity and we very much look forward to the challenges and exciting times ahead. It's an immense honour and I think you'll agree that Leo spoke so well about his fondness for the Air Force and his time in this role and very shortly, Leo and I will meet in the office of the Chief of Air Force to actually do the formal sign over of the Air Force. I'm certain, that will be a deeply professional and emotional moment for both of us. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Leo for his exceptional stewardship and leadership over the last four years. Where he has continued to deliver on the work, the vision and the intent that previous Chiefs have brought forward for our Air Force and he's carried that forward in such a strong way; tirelessly, with energy, with discipline and with continued focus. And he's take our Air Force, well and truly, on an irreversible path towards a fifth generation Air Force. I'd also acknowledge that with Ronda, he represented our Air Force, our ADF and indeed our nation, at the highest levels and both of them did that with vigour, passion and dedication. They are such an accomplished couple. 

Through and with all of you and the people that are gathered up here at the seats at the top end of this memorial. With and through you, our Air Force is in great shape. It's an Air Force that's envied by many. As most probably, most likely, the most modern and capable Air Force in the world today. For that I am deeply thankful. But this work and this focus must continue. We're in the midst of one of the most significant transitions in our history- in the history of our times. And we're facing some quite turbulent and uncertain strategic circumstances. We need to ensure that we're able to meet that challenges that will come. To do that, we'll ensure that we continue to reform, we'll still focus and aim for continuous improvement and we must always aim to be as efficient as we can in order to ensure that we can deliver effectively within the boundaries of the resources that we have. We've got great kit, there's no doubt and what a wonderful fly pass to see some of the most recent additions. But the heart of our capabilities still remains our people. That's where we get our true capability advantage. We need the right people, doing the right things, professional skilled, passionate and trusted and I make a key point that we're not alone in this endeavour. We need to be and are part of a joint integrated and multi domain force. An Air Force poses capabilities that are inherently joint. Whether we're supporting, whether we're being supported or whether when necessary we're leading, we need to focus and look at our capabilities across the whole of our defence force. What I need us to continue to do and to ensure that we do it strongly is to communicate broadly, to engage with all those stakeholders that we need in our collective business. And I expect the same in return. To our Air Force people gathered here today; we are in the right place, we are on the right trajectory. We need to continue to demonstrate our joint capabilities. We need to value and integrate across our multi domain force and in particular work with our colleagues in Navy and Army. By doing that we will certainly be able to further develop our people and those capabilities are so important to us.

Finally, earlier this morning the CDF past me my appointment certificate and he said to me; hey, Mel don't forget being the Chief of your service is actually fun, and I look forward to working with all of you during my tenure as the Chief of Air Force. And you'll see me smile plenty of times and I'll be looking forward to the same in return. Lou and I are very much looking forward to the next years of my tenure. Thank you.