Defence

JLN will always have a special interest in all matters associated with veterans, former and serving members of the Australian Defence Force and their families.

The men and women of Australia’s military who have pledged undying loyalty to Australia, trained for war, followed politicians’ orders, bled, sacrificed and protected our world famous ANZAC legend for decades – have been lied to, betrayed and abandoned by all political parties and senior military officers.

Our defence force numbers – at approximately 58,000 FTE (just over half the crowd for a football grand final at the MCG) and military reserves, resources and equipment – have been run down to the point where Australia’s national security and ability to protect our sovereign interests for future generations is seriously compromised.

The high rate of serving digger and veteran psychological harm has been negligently caused because Australian politicians and senior military officers, over time, agreed to international military commitments with the knowledge that too few ADF members would be asked to share too much of the overseas combat and peacekeeping duties.

Put simply, our relatively small numbers of diggers have been asked over the last 15 years, by Australian politicians and military leaders, to spend too long on the frontline – despite those commanders knowing that our diggers were guaranteed to suffer at the very least extremely high rates of psychological injuries.

A) Middle East (Iraq) Military Deployment

JLN does not support the current deployment of troops to the Middle East and calls on the Australian government to immediately withdraw them. America, with only 3000 troops stationed in Iraq, has deployed a token military force and is not serious about overcoming Islamic State. Australia should consider the deployment of military forces when America and the rest of the world get serious about properly neutralising the threat of Islamic State.

In the meantime all efforts to support Kurdish fighters and people in the Middle East, including the supply of weapons and humanitarian assistance, should be carried out. JLN notes to-date, the Kurdish fighters are the only effective ground forces in the struggle against Islamic State – and that Kurdish and Australian culture shares a similar love of democratic institutions, basic civil freedoms, human and women’s rights. JLN condemns Turkey’s attacks on PKK military assets and personnel who are engaged in the fight against ISIS.

The JLN will fight for the men and women of our ARMY, Navy and RAAF in parliament – just as hard as those women and men have fought, and continue to fight, for their mates, family and Australia in international war zones and peacekeeping operations. The difference between JLN and other political organisations is that we will live up to the ANZAC legend – not off it.

 B) Royal Commission – Defence Abuse and Veterans’ Welfare

JLN demands the immediate establishment of a Defence Abuse and Veterans’ Welfare Royal Commission with broad terms of reference. The main purpose of this Royal Commission is to:

  • Deliver justice to the tens of thousands of members of the ADF, including children who joined as trade apprentices and were placed in the care of the Australian government and have been the subject of serious criminal assaults and gross sexual abuse.
  • Bring to account the senior members of the ADF who, over the years, have participated in and/or covered up these crimes and gross acts of sexual abuse.
  • Ensure measures are put in place to prevent this toxic culture of sexual abuse, criminal assault and cover-up from continuing to creep back into our ADF
  • Deliver justice, timely medical treatment and fair compensation to our veterans who have suffered physical and psychological injuries in the course of their service and – when compared with civilian public servants – have been discriminated against.
  • Develop a program to limit and stop the unacceptably high rate of suicide among veterans and former ADF members.
  • Identify and remedy systemic bureaucratic failures of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which have contributed to high rates of suicide, psychological harm and homelessness among veterans.
  • Bring to account senior management of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, politicians and others who, over the years, have deliberately covered up successive governments’ embarrassing level of veteran harm, suicides and deceitful compensation payments and any other related matters.

C) Defence Fair Pay and Pay Increases

JLN has introduced and had passed by the Senate, legislation that guarantees fair pay and pay rises for all members of the ADF and a wage rise safety net by linking our diggers’ pay increases to the increases given to Australian politicians or the CPI – whichever is higher.

D) NSTAS – JLN will fight to establish a National Service Trainee and Apprenticeship Scheme (NSTAS), incorporating the ADF and state TAFE’s.

JLN supports the introduction of a voluntary Australian National Service, Trainee and

 Apprenticeship Scheme. NSTAS will dramatically boost the number of people serving in the ADF by reintroducing a combination of military schemes, (National Service & Trainee and Apprenticeship Schemes) that have been successfully run in the past.

NSTAS will offer voluntary basic military training and the opportunity to compete for military trade, apprenticeship and trainee courses, to all 18-year-old Australians who are not employed or studying for a university degree, vocational education or trade qualification.

And as was the case during the Vietnam War, where every member of the Australian military who served and fought in Vietnam was a volunteer – every member of the ADF who serves overseas in future war or war-like zones will continue to be volunteers.

(Note – if your number came up during the draft for the Vietnam War, it was compulsory to undertake military training, not compulsory to serve in Vietnam. Many Australians are not aware of this important point in National Service policy.)

As NSTAS is phased in, the new generation of Australians who choose not to undertake voluntary National Service Trainee and Apprenticeship Scheme and who are not earning, learning in civilian life – will not be eligible to receive any government welfare.

There will be certain exemptions for people who are not physically or psychologically able to join the ADF, but many of those people will already be receiving disability benefits. Once young Australians have successfully completed NSTAS, and they are still unable to find work, they will then qualify to receive government welfare.

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