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Speech by the Hon Andrew Peacock, to the 68th national congress of the R.S.L



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Leader of the Opposition \ O t _ f

PRESS RELEASE * I

SPEECH BY THE HON; ANDREW PEACOCK, M.P., TO THE 68TH NATIONAL CONGRESS OF THE R.S.L,

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It is a great pleasure for me to be here todg-γ, and I thank you for your invitation, I shall confine iiyself to a few, very brief remarks.

There has never been any doubt that the Libegr^q Party and the Coalition as a whole, values very highly the of ’ the R.S.L., The J E L , S„L, has proved to be an effective Watchdog on defence policies. It has proved to be an effective

advocate of the interests of those who have served Australia in the armed forces in both war and peace. It has prt^fed to be an effective catalyst for helping the community in φ. number of other ways not directly related to the defend

forces.

I commend the R.S.L. for its recent efforts ftp . bring in younger members. That will ensure it sustain^; a high level of membership, and it will ensure the R.S.jJ. remains relevant and in touch with the concerns of all

Australians, not just those of the older generation.

"Throughout the '7J years of the previous Gove-hinent there was a close and fruitful dialogue between the Rg&L. and the Government. Although we did not always agree with the R.S.L., its views were always weighed very carefully

by a Government which understood the need for effective defence forces. And a fair deal for servicemen and se^tce- women and ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen,

I am very conscious of your current concerns,ahd although I do not wish to dwell on party political ppftts it must be said that I am particularly aware of the inequitable treatment meted out to servicemen and se^$Cewomen ainder the new .lump-sum .taxation decisions,

I am sure the Minister for Defence would ag£>£· that it is quite absurd for a person who retires on his Sfftibirthday to pay only half the tax on his superannuation that „a serviceman, who has to retire before his 55th birtfodfiyhas to pay.

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I sincerely hope that in the interests of a fair deal, the Government will review that decision.!^

One other recent measure I will mention is "the decision by the Government in its Budget to tax the pay and allowances of members of the Reserve Defence Forces. This will reduce the incentive for people to join the reserve,

and as a result it will to some extent weaken Australia’s overall defence preparedness:; I urge the Government t© reverse that decision. . i . ,

The Government must also note very carefully R.S.L.'s strong advocacy of an^effective defence fore#. We must have a defence force with modern,efficient equipment with the versatility to cope with the widest range of *

contingencies.

It is one area of public expenditure where we Jnst cannot afford to take short cuts. We must always be Pf^pared to face unforeseen difficulties or emergencies.

The turbulence .and unpredicability of the ini^hational political climate has.so recently been brought home to the shooting down of the Korean commercial aircraft wit$t ^he loss of 269 lives. Incidents of that nature could, regrettably,

set-off a chain of events which could eventually involve ’ Australia's security.

That is why we need to ensure we always have φρ effective defence force, no matter how stable our foreign policy may seem. '

Hi snust sQso be ^understood ^frai ttihe si:abi'l i t y 1 effectiveness of our foreign policy depends on a strong defence force. Diplomacy which is not backed by an effective defence capacity is diplomacy unable to pursue comprefaejtVely

the national interest.

The R.S.L. has for many years been a guardianDqf Australia's defence forces, ensuring Governments give dfknce an appropriately high priority. I am sure you will con"|hue to do so.

I wish you well for your 68th National Congress, and for a fruitful year ahead. ’

Canberra, 12 September 1983