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ADF must reflect positive community values.

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ADF Must Reflect Positive Community Values Laurie Ferguson - Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

Media Statement - 19 December 2000

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The Federal Opposition is alarmed at further suggestions that neo-Nazi sympathisers have been organising within the ranks of the Defence Force.

Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Laurie Ferguson MP, says the authorities must not simply turn a blind eye to such activities.

'It is frankly inadequate to say that the ADF respects the political and religious views of serving personnel,' Mr Ferguson said.

'The matter requires urgent investigation and the public is entitled to a full explanation.

'The Defence Force exists to protect our democratic way of life, to be a positive force for peace and to deliver humanitarian assistance.

'Overt neo-Nazi agitation is incompatible with such a mission, as several European and North American countries have been forced to concede.

'The men and women in our Defence Force are well educated, highly skilled, motivated and altruistic. They do not deserve to have their good name, and the proud record of the ADF, damaged by the activities of an unrepresentative group of extremists.

'The ADF acknowledges that it has a recruitment and retention problem. Last year the Army and Air Force only achieved 83% of their recruitment targets, the Navy a mere 57% and the Army Reserve an appalling 33%.

'It is worth noting that the pool of potential recruits to the ADF, amongst the 17-35 age group, includes many whose families migrated to Australia to flee authoritarian regimes.

'They can only be discouraged by recent revelations, and by the continual silence of the responsible Minister, Bruce Scott.

'I am particularly disturbed that The Australian quotes two officers who said they were aware of neo-Nazi activities that had overstepped the mark.

'We are entitled to know whether these concerns were reported to the responsible authorities within the chain of command and to be told what, if anything, was done about the situation.'

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.