Paul grew up at Wauchope, a small NSW town. While a teenager, he applied to join the Air Force and made his first trip to Sydney. What fascinated him most was the lift he took to reach the 22nd floor interview room – he went up and down three times just for the enjoyment.
In the Air Force, he first flew helicopters in New Guinea, servicing the inland inhabitants. He graduated to flying the F-111, a supersonic (Mach 3), medium-range, multirole combat aircraft – “as smooth as a Cadillac to fly”, Paul said.
While based in Brisbane, he would sometimes “take a break” grab an F-111 at nearby Amberley Air Force base and ‘disappear’ for a couple of hours, while he flew south, across Bass Strait, over Table Cape and further south before flying over Hobart and heading back to Brisbane. On these jaunts, he looked down on Boat Harbour; he wanted to take a closer look. Paul and his wife moved to Boat Harbour 13 years ago and Paul does his Air Force job from there.
Paul then switched focus and gave an overview of Australia’s defensive strategy. He pointed out that there is a “hell of a lot of water” that an enemy has to get across to reach us and this is a serious deterrent.
The Five Power Defence Arrangement (Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom) has its base in Malaysia and an Australian has always been the Director – Singapore and Malaysia could never accept that one of them should be in control! Under this arrangement, there is frequent war ‘games’ held in this south-east Asian region.
Australia also works with other, more distant nations, such as UK, USA and Japan on defence issues.
In short, Paul sees Australia as being relatively safe as a nation due to its distance from everywhere else and by the apathy of its citizens.