2001 - Labor
2001 Labor Defence Statement – Kim Beazley's Plan for Defence
Labor’s plan for Defence committed to a strong, effective and sustainable ADF.
On Australia’s strategic circumstances and funding for Defence, Labor committed to the Defence White Paper 2000 and its associated funding and said that it would direct Defence to undertake an annual assessment of Australia’s strategic environment.
Labor announced that, if it reached office, it would host an initial meeting of Defence Ministers from the Asia–Pacific (AP) region, seen as the first step towards establishing the annual AP Defence Ministers Forum.
In terms of defence cooperation with the region, the paper stated that Australia would strengthen support for Indonesian law enforcement authorities, assist Papua New Guinea through the existing Defence Cooperation Program and would maintain an ADF presence in East Timor as long as needed. The paper also highlighted the importance of Pacific nation security to Australia’s national security.
Labor said it would promote regular joint military exercises with New Zealand and that participation in Five Power Defence Arrangements would remain an important aspect of Labor’s regional policy.
On the future Defence force, the paper stated that Labor would maintain the doubling of the ADF counter-terrorism capabilities and would reinstate an ADF Combat Search and Rescue and Special Operations Aviation Capability. Additionally, Labor announced it would reinstate the Special Incident Response capability to deal with the threat from non-state groups acquiring nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
On managing Defence, the paper announced that Labor would establish a Defence Minister’s Pre-Eminent Persons Advisory Council with 12 members to provide advice to the Defence Minister and establish a permanent internal Acquisition Audit Team to audit Defence’s major capital equipment projects, as well as a number of other internal reforms. It would undertake a full assessment and report on all current major capital programs to highlight future problems.
Focusing on Australia’s defence industry, the paper stated that Labor would take measures to ensure that Defence maximised the purchase of Australian goods and services and increased the level of major equipment expenditure from Australia with targets and reporting mechanisms in place. It would also introduce a new annual report obligation to include a specific section outlining Australian industry involvement in Defence projects.
Furthermore, Labor said its Defence Industry Action Agenda would include a specific Naval Shipbuilding Industry Strategy which would mandate all future naval ship construction and upgrade programs be undertaken in Australia. For South Australia, Labor stated it would support a Defence Industry Cluster based around the Australian Submarine Corporation.
Defence-related policies from other portfolios covered announcements such as upgrading collection and assessment resources of Australia’s national intelligence agencies and committing additional resources to intelligence collection and assessment relating to terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs. Labor also said it would strengthen Australia’s legislative prohibitions against activities relating to the acquisition or development of WMDs and stated that non-proliferation and disarmament issues were key
Labor foreign policy priorities.
Labor committed to establishing an integrated approach to national security policy and planning by broadening the focus of Cabinet’s National Security Committee and announced it would appoint a Minister for Home Affairs in the Cabinet responsible for a range of non-security and administrative functions and all Commonwealth security functions outside of Defence.
Another key announcement was that Labor would establish the Australian Coast Guard to act as a maritime police force and coastal defence force in times of war or national emergency.
2001 Labor Defence Statement – Kim Beazley's Plan for Defence Personnel
Labor’s plan for Defence personnel recognised that the ADF’s most valuable asset is its people. The key policy announcements in the paper included that Labor would initiate fringe benefit reporting exemptions for ADF-provided personnel entitlements and restore the value of the remote locality leave travel offset.
Labor also announced a series of reforms and initiatives to rebuild the Defence Reservists, including providing additional funding and increasing the tax-free training allowance by 4 per cent.
To support Defence families, Labor announced it would boost funding for the Spouse Employment Assistance Program and expand the Defence Employer Sponsored Child Care Program, among other initiatives.
The plan for Defence personnel also included policies regarding salary structure for ADF medical officers, a new fitness and readiness system, military justice reforms, Defence cadets and virtual training campuses for Defence personnel.
2001 Labor Defence Statement – Kim Beazley's Plan for Veterans
Labor committed to retaining the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as the administrative entity for all veteran benefits and entitlements, and stated it would make the improvement of advisory services a priority. It would extend the Gold Card to all Australian veterans over 70-years-old with qualifying service, regardless of where or when they served.
Labor stated it would conduct a two-part independent review into the T&PI and the Extreme Disablement Adjustment pensions, as well as issues relating to qualifying service for WWII veterans without qualifying service, veterans of the British Occupational Force of Japan, participants of British atomic bomb testing in Australia and servicemen engaged in counter-terrorist and recovery training.
A number of health studies of Australia’s veterans were undertaken, with Labor stating it was dedicated to implementing the recommendations of these studies. It also planned to develop an integrated plan to ensure veterans and their families have access to a variety of services. Labor stated it would establish an inquiry into the health needs of former SAS members, to identify the long-term effects of their service.
A Labor government would examine funeral benefit amounts to ensure all veterans received a dignified funeral, and would remove the GST from funeral services, including pre-paid funerals, from 1 January 2003, and would refund the GST already paid on pre-paid funerals not yet delivered.
In order to honour Australia’s veterans, Labor would posthumously award the Victoria Cross of Australia to three war heroes.
2001 Labor Foreign Affairs Statement – Labor’s Plan for Foreign Policy – Comprehensive Engagement
Labor’s plan for foreign policy centred on restoring international respect for Australia as a tolerant and outward looking society committed to international engagement.
Labor said it would give priority to Australia’s engagement in Asia. It would engage with Asian multilateral forums and pursue wider regional dialogue and cooperation as well as support engaging and integrating China within the emerging Asia–Pacific security community.
The paper highlighted Australia’s key relationships as those with Japan, Indonesia, nations of Southeast Asia, India, Europe, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and nations of the South Pacific. The paper stated that within ten days of a Labor government formation, the new Foreign Minister and other Ministers would travel to Jakarta for discussion with the Indonesian government. Labor would promote a broad-based Leadership Dialogue between Indonesian and Australian political and civil leaders.
Labor said it would finalise a free trade agreement with Singapore and pursue a free trade agreement with Thailand.
A key theme of Labor’s 2001 foreign policy platforms was actively pursuing counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism strategies. Non-proliferation and disarmament were cited as key foreign policy priorities. The paper said that Labor would commission a new and independent assessment of non-proliferation and disarmament strategies and would support international disarmament regimes and conventions.
Labor said it would commit additional resources to enhance national intelligence collection and assessment relating to terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as additional resources to the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office. It would also strengthen Australia’s legislative prohibitions against activities relating to acquisition or development of nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological weapons.
Labor stated that it would give high priority to building regional and international cooperation to combat people smuggling. On people smuggling, Labor said that it would appoint a Special Australian Representative to promote regional action against people smugglers. It would also meet the challenge of people smuggling by pursuing the issue with the Indonesian government and pursue a comprehensive agreement with Indonesia to extend bilateral cooperation against people smuggling.
The paper announced that Labor would make the advancement of human rights a core foreign policy objective. On this front, it said it would strengthen international mechanisms and processes for monitoring human rights violations, appoint an Ambassador for Human Rights, give priority to ratification of key human rights treaties and establish a new Regional Centre for Human Rights Dialogue and Conflict Resolution.
Another key theme was the commitment to international efforts against terrorism. Labor said it would commit to strong support of the international intelligence, law enforcement and military effort against terrorists. It would work to strengthen international cooperation against terrorism and pursue the negotiation of a new Comprehensive International Convention Against Terrorism, as well as support the imposition of UN sanctions against countries suspected of supporting, sponsoring or harbouring terrorist groups.
The protection of the global environment was stated as a key diplomatic objective. Labor said it would ratify the Kyoto Protocol and give priority to environment cooperation in the Asia–Pacific region. A key element of Australia’s engagement with the Pacific was to be focused on the sustainable management of fisheries and other bilateral environmental assistance.
Labor announced it would commission a comprehensive review of the capacity and focus of Australia’s overseas representation, and would allocate additional resources to strengthen diplomatic presence in the Middle East and South Asia.
On Australia’s international aid programs, Labor said it would introduce a human rights framework for Australia’s overseas aid programs. The focus of Australia’s aid would be on development assistance programs in East Asia and the South Pacific.
Updated: 25 Jul 2018