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Democrats welcome Nelson's plan to reform Defence recruiting restrictions.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Bartlett Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Defence & Veterans

Dated: 15 March 2006

Press Release Number: obdhdtui Portfolio: Defence & Veterans

Democrats Welcome Nelson's Plan to Reform Defence Recruiting Restrictions

The Australian Democrats have welcomed Defence Minister Brendan Nelson's comments that he is seeking to overhaul defence force recruiting restrictions and improving the military justice system.

The Democrats' Deputy Leader, Andrew Bartlett said this would be a welcome move which could make the armed forces a more attractive option for young people.

Dr Nelson is reportedly considering relaxing restrictions on people who admit to previously taking illicit drugs.

"This sort of change is common sense. We want everyday Australians to consider joining the armed forces and the truth is that many Australians have used illicit drugs at some stage in their lives."

"Current guidelines exclude people who have admitted to habitual drug use or have a conviction. Being honest enough to admit that they have used drugs or have a conviction does not mean that they will repeat this behaviour and such admissions shouldnt necessarily hamper an individual's ability to serve their country."

"While some restrictions will still need to apply, removing unnecessarily strict impediments to recruitment will be useful."

"The reconsideration of restrictions currently in place on a persons stature, weight or minor and controllable medical conditions would also be a good way to remove unnecessary hurdles to recruitment."

"A sensible, flexible and reasonable approach is required with these guidelines."

"While recruiting is important, retaining personnel is essential, and the Democrats urge Dr Nelson to do more in this area."

"In addition to continuing to improve the problematic military justice system, Dr Nelson needs to recognise that many personnel who have been injured while serving in the armed forces believe that they have got a raw deal."

"These people have been left to struggle with no ongoing assistance. We will never successfully tackle the problem of recruiting and retaining personnel unless people are convinced that they and their families will be properly looked after if they are injured."

"People need to believe that they will be treated fairly and cared for appropriately if things go wrong," Senator Bartlett said.