1998 - Labor
1998 Labor Defence Statement –A Better Plan for Defence
Labor planned to redefine national security in a more comprehensive manner, acknowledging a range of factors that impact Australia’s security. It promised to commission a strategic review, in order to set out a security assessment of Australia and provide guidance for government, the ADF and industry. Labor pledged to maintain the current real value of defence spending and promoted the importance of improving quality of life for defence personnel and their families—through improved defence housing, changes to superannuation contributions, and a promise not to sell the Defence Housing Authority.
Labor also recognised the importance of defence industry and committed to establishing a new Defence Procurement Board to build partnerships between government and industry. There was a focus on enhancing the Australia–New Zealand Alliance, through bilateral economic and political ties, and a plan to establish a fully integrated ANZAC battalion.
Labor promised to expand the role of the National Security Committee of Cabinet to oversee the formulation, development and management of an integrated national security policy and strategy, and the preparation and coordination of national security assessments. A Beazley government also committed to the acquisition of two further Collins-class submarines and a strategic review of planned upgrades to the F/A-18s and planned extended life of the F1-11s.
1998 Labor Defence Statement – A Better Plan for Veterans
Labor was committed to continuing to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australia’s veterans. It pledged to maintain a separate Department of Veterans’ Affairs to protect the interests of veterans and ensure that the ex-service community had access to relevant programs of assistance.
Labor stated it would ensure Service Pension coverage for specific tours of duty for Far Eastern Strategic Reserve (FESR) veterans, and all Navy FESR veterans would remain eligible for the Veterans’ Disability Pension for service between 2 July 1955 and 27 May 1963.
A Labor government would extend access to the Service Pension to RAAF veterans who served at Ubon, Thailand from 25 June 1965. In addition, Labor stated it would grant War Widow’s pensions to widows of Intermediate Rate Disability pensioners. This change would only involve future deaths, with retrospective claims being dealt with under existing rules.
Labor committed to the development of an Integrated Action Plan on the health of Vietnam veterans and their families. This would include a comprehensive review of relevant Statements of Principles used to determine Disability Pension claims, a mechanism to assist veterans whose children have Spina Bifida, a concerted health promotion and education program, and a review of direct Department of Veterans’ Affairs services to Vietnam veterans and their families.
It would also award a Medal for Gallantry to veterans of other ranks whose gallantry saw them approved for the Military Medal, but missed out due to the quota system.
Labor stated it would provide a service to assist British veterans living in Australia to submit claims to the UK War Pensions Agency, which would be provided by an ex-service organisation and would be funded by existing allocations.
In response to the Auditor General’s performance audit report, Labor would overhaul the Joint Venture Scheme and Commemorative Activities Program. This would include a focus on improving the probity and transparency of decision-making within a proper planning framework and would specify expected outcomes for individual funded projects.
1998 Labor Foreign Affairs Statement – A Better Plan for Foreign Affairs
Labor’s strategy for foreign policy involved a ‘creative, forward-thinking and appropriately resourced’ approach to enhance economic growth, national security and employment opportunities for Australians. Labor prioritised Australia’s enduring engagement with Asia as the centre-point of its foreign policy. This included promoting a comprehensive strategy for regional cooperation and support.
Highlighting the economic issues in Asia at the time, Labor emphasised the need to promote an appropriate and effective response through APEC, the IMF and the World Bank, the importance of maintaining progress in the development of regional security cooperation and a commitment to significantly increase overseas development assistance. This overseas development assistance would have a human rights focus and be concentrated primarily in East Asia and the South Pacific. In addition, Labor sought to broaden Australia’s links with Europe and North America, and increase engagement with the Middle East, Indian Pacific Rim nations and South America.
The issue of East Timor was a high priority for Labor, holding the belief that any lasting solution required a process of negotiation with the East Timorese, and stressed the importance of their right to self-determination. Labor committed to maximising international pressure on the Burmese military regime, and proposed a range of sanctions if human rights conditions did not improve.
Labor also promoted active efforts to eliminate abusive labour practices (particularly the exploitation of child labour), a boost to Australia’s public diplomacy programs abroad, and committed to energetically pursue nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation through promoting the adherence and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a range of other measures.
1998 Labor National Security Statement – A Better Plan for Population and Immigration
Through its commitment to multiculturalism, a Labor government would provide $3.3 million per year to establish the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It would be responsible for monitoring citizenship issues, multicultural affairs, access and equity and a research program. The Office would ensure newly arrived migrants and refugees, as well as more established migrant communities, have access to government programs.
Labor committed to providing an additional $200,000 per year for an anti-racism campaign to encourage community-based activities nationwide. It would highlight Australia as a country that values multiculturalism, equal rights, reconciliation and non-discrimination.
A Labor government would provide $13.1 million over three years to establish an Office of Population and Immigration, to be responsible for the on-going development of Australia’s population policy. The Office’s first job would be to undertake an inquiry to identify Australia’s long-term sustainable population. The outcome of this inquiry would be a framework within which yearly immigration levels would be determined.
Labor remained committed to increasing access to the Advanced English Migrant Program and would provide $37 million over three years to fund the program. It pledged to ensure new migrants and refugees have access to a wide range of settlement services, and that community organisations such as Migrant Resource Centres would receive guaranteed funding on a three-year basis.
Finally, Labor committed to providing $200,000 to the Association of Non-English Speaking Background Women to provide advice and improve access to services.
Updated: 25 Jul 2018