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2004 - Labor


2004 Labor Defence Statement – Labor's Plan for Defence

In 2004, Labor endorsed the principles, strategies and tasks set out in the 2000 Defence White Paper. Labor’s defence policy had a strong commitment to international operations led by the UN and Australia’s key allies in the pursuit of broader national strategic objectives.

A Labor government planned to initiate a new Defence White Paper in its first year in office.

Labor’s plan for defence saw its alliance with the US as one of the three pillars of its national security policy. It said it would enhance cooperation and joint training between the ADF and the military forces of Australia’s allies.

Labor’s Defence Capability Plan would include the acquisition of three air warfare destroyers to provide a maritime in-theatre missile defensive capability by 2013.
Labor intended to actively use arrangements and forums, including the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), Asia Pacific Defence Ministers’ Forum, and ASEAN Regional Forum, to promote effective regional responses to shared strategic challenges, including the threat of terrorism.

Labor planned to re-invigorate Australia’s defence relationship with New Zealand, harmonise Australia’s responsibilities in the South Pacific, and improve the complementarity of Australia’s Defence forces. Labor would encourage regular military exercises with NZ and would create greater synergies between the two Defence forces.

Labor would engage with the nations of the South Pacific to raise the standards of governance, improve law enforcement and modernise security forces.

It said it would implement a number of initiatives to address shortcomings in the Defence organisation, including a review of the Defence Capability Plan to ensure that military acquisitions over the next decade would deliver the necessary capabilities for the Land, Sea, Air and Special Forces.
Labor planned to transfer the maritime policing role that was at the time performed by the Navy to a single, dedicated agency – the Australian Coastguard.  

It intended to appoint a Minister of Defence Procurement to be responsible for the delivery of major equipment projects on time and on budget.

It also proposed to maintain a competitive Australian naval shipbuilding, maintenance and repair industry. Labor was also committed to maintain a viable Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC).

Labor proposed increasing the size of the Army by raising an additional light infantry battalion over four years, to be based in Townsville.  

It pledged to create a new entitlement of reunion travel for non-custodial parents in the ADF who are posted away from their children and said it planned to create an Australian Defence Force Medal for volunteers who served three years in the ADF, as Regulars or Reservists, since World War II.
Labor envisioned a nationwide pilot project to provide a total of 1,000 off-base accommodation places for single ADF personnel. The pilot would operate at seven locations around Australia, and would not involve any capital costs for Defence.



2004 Labor Defence Statement – An Australian Coastguard

Labor proposed to establish an Australian Coastguard. The Coastguard was intended to be a part of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) portfolio, drawing together the civilian coastal surveillance agencies that existed at the time—which would include Coastwatch and the National Maritime Unit of Customs. It would acquire eight Bay-class vessels and two helicopters from Customs. This would be supplemented by three 55 metre class deep ocean vessels, five new 35 metre class patrol vessels, and three new twin-engine helicopters. Within the Australian Coastguard a sea marshals program would also be established.

The Labor government also intended to provide funding of $80 million over four years from 2005–2006 to support volunteer coastal patrols and search and rescue organisations.

The prospective Labor government also proposed to provide $2 million in 2004–2005 to the Northern Territory Government to establish a radar-based vessel tracking system.



2004 Labor Defence Statement – Labor's Plan for Veterans

Labor stated that it would allocate $17.8 million towards its Plan for Veterans. This would have included an Income Support Supplement to 1,600 war widows who were at that time ineligible for assistance. The proposed Plan for Veterans included an increase in bereavement payments for single Totally and Permanently Incapacitated and Extremely Disabled veterans who had died without sufficient assets to pay for a funeral.

Labor focused on veterans’ children and stated it would commission a comprehensive study of the health of veterans’ children and would provide an additional 120 tertiary education bursaries per year for the children of veterans that meet specific selection criteria.

It committed to a contribution of $150,000 to the Ballarat City Council to maintain its POW memorial, as well as building a memorial to honour Australian peacekeepers served overseas since WWII on Anzac Parade in Canberra. Labor would investigate options to extend veterans’ benefits to Australian veterans born to British parents and who were under 21 at the time of enlistment. It pledged to declare ‘Battle for Australia Day’ in commemoration of the successful defence of Australia in 1942.


2004 Labor Foreign Affairs Statement – The Three Pillars: Our alliance with the US, Our membership of the UN, and Comprehensive engagement with Asia

In the policy statement, Labor identified three strategic policy interests: the continued strategic stabilisation of East Asia and the West Pacific delivered by US alliances with Australia and Japan; intelligence sharing relationships; and Australia’s ability to obtain quality defence platforms, systems and technologies from the US.
The statement proposed that Labor would work to affirm the centrality of the US alliance to Australia’s long-term security, with strong strategic engagement in Australia’s region.

If elected, the document stated that a Labor government would take a leading role in international efforts to reform and strengthen the UN and the wider multilateral system.

It stated that Labor would work to forge a new consensus on international humanitarian intervention and strengthen the UN’s peacekeeping capability.

Labor would develop, in partnership with governments of Southeast Asia, a Comprehensive Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Regarding proliferation of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological weapons, Labor would nominate a senior Ambassador for Counter-Proliferation and Disarmament and establish within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade a new Office of Counter-Proliferation to develop and coordinate government policy.

In the policy statement, Labor proposed to work with other stakeholders to continue the reform of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. This included supporting free trade and reversing the Howard Government’s policy of disengagement with the International Labour Organisation.

Labor proposed to adopt the Millennium Development Goals as the basis of Australia’s overall foreign aid policy. This would involve ensuring that the existing aid budget was not further reduced and, over time, restoring it to the 1995–1996 level of an ODA/GNI ratio of 0.32 per cent.

The policy stated that a Labor government would focus on helping improve Papua New Guinea’s development record, which would include increasing Australia’s existing contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by $11.25 million over two years.

The document stated that a Labor government would sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. This would include ratifying Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Regarding resource security, the policy stated that a Labor government would increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to 5 per cent by 2010.

The document also stated that a prospective Labor government would ratify the Kyoto Protocol.


Updated: 25 Jul 2018