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Taking Defence forward.



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Campaign Media Release

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

TAKING DEFENCE FORWARD

The Gillard Labor Government today released Labor’s Plan for Defence. The policy outlines Federal Labor’s commitment to four key pledges that will build the Australian Defence Force, protect our troops, and strengthen our defence ties.

Federal Labor commits to:

• Delivering the 2009 Defence White Paper and Force 2030. Federal Labor is committed to creating the most professional and flexible defence force in our region - with the people, equipment and support systems needed for the task. Federal Labor has approved nearly $8 billion of defence projects to deliver Force 2030.

• Giving Defence long-term funding certainty. Federal Labor has committed to 3 per cent average real growth in Defence expenditure to 2017-18, with 2.2 per cent thereafter to 2030.

• Providing the best possible support and protection for our ADF personnel on the battlefield. Federal Labor is delivering a $1.1 billion force protection program.

• Maintaining and strengthening military and strategic ties across our region, more broadly internationally, and maintaining our strong alliance with the United States.

AFGHANISTAN

A re-elected Gillard Government is committed to seeing the job through in Afghanistan, training Afghan national security forces to enable them to take over responsibility for their own security in Uruzgan province.

Afghanistan remains difficult and dangerous. Eighteen Australian soldiers have been killed, and 145 wounded.

But the task - to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming an operating base and training ground for terrorists - is in the interests of Australia and all Australians.

Our forces, together with 46 other nations acting under a UN mandate, will continue to contribute in Afghanistan.

CAPABILITY ACQUISITIONS

As part of the $1.1 billion Force Protection program announced in the 2010-11 Budget, Australia will accelerate the acquisition of 18 Shadow 200 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to conduct battlefield surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition, at a cost of $175 million.

The Gillard Labor Government is also enhancing the ADF’s Counter Improvised Explosive Device capability to provide additional explosive disposal robots, new force protection systems for vehicles and training systems, at a cost of $120 million. Federal Labor has also accelerated a Defence Capability Plan project to acquire an improved targeting system for deployment to Afghanistan as soon as possible, at a cost of $30 million. This Digital Terminal Control System will improve the accuracy of coalition aircraft and other precision weapon systems and minimise unintended civilian casualties.

Funding for these projects has been provided under the Defence Capability Plan and through the Government’s response to the Force Protection Review.

INCREASED SUPPORT FOR WOUNDED PERSONNEL

If re-elected, the Gillard Labor Government will introduce an enhanced program of support and services for wounded ADF members, the Simpson Program, named after Australia’s Gallipoli hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick.

The men and women of Australia’s Defence Forces face significant danger in the defence of our nation and our national interest. When they are wounded or suffer illness as a result of their service, they deserve the best possible care and support.

The Government has introduced a range of programs reflecting international best practice in providing care for wounded members of the ADF:

• The Regional Casualty Support Officers program, currently being trialled, provides support for Army members and their families. If successful, Labor will expand this program to other services.

• A wide range of mental health support programs including comprehensive screening and a ‘decompression’ program for personnel returning from deployment.

• Improvements in mental health, with the expenditure of an additional $83 million.

• New rehabilitation policies, with more emphasis on retaining injured personnel where possible, and extending rehabilitation.

• A new partnership program with the Australian Paralympic Committee, providing valuable rehabilitation opportunities.

The Simpson Program will provide $21.2 million over four years to enhance and extend these services, including:

• Providing protections for wounded personnel returning to Australia to minimise financial disadvantage.

• Providing housing support and assistance.

• Ensuring greater recognition for wounded personnel.

• Ensuring access to specialist rehabilitation.

ADF HEALTH

Federal Labor is committed to ensuring ADF personnel have access to the specialist medical services required to provide the best quality care for our troops.

Defence has entered into a strategic health alliance in Queensland with Queensland Health, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, the Queensland Health Skills Development Centre and the University of Queensland.

The project has involved embedding a military surgical team, establishing a high acuity ward for military patients staffed by ADF personnel, and providing access to a hyperbaric chamber to improve health service delivery and clinical training opportunities for ADF personnel.

Building on this model, a Gillard Labor Government will expand this alliance into a network of strategic alliances across Australia to deliver state of the art treatment and training opportunities for ADF personnel.

The expanded network of alliances, costing $7.6 million over four years, will include a focus on tropical and exotic diseases, to ensure the ADF is prepared for deployment to high risk areas.

Defence will extend specialist care in a program costing $12.1 million over four years, funding a permanent ADF specialist medical capability to meet the requirements of Defence personnel. These specialists will provide the ADF with the capability to deploy medical teams at short notice to support global ADF operations.

The Gillard Labor Government will deliver improved health care for ADF members. The Government will review the outcomes of the ADF Family Healthcare Trial, which currently provides access to a range of medical services to ADF families. Over 3,800 ADF dependants are already registered in the trial which will conclude in 2012.

Once the Government has feedback from the trial, and is in a position to assess the health care model which will deliver the best results for ADF families, the Government will design the most appropriate model of healthcare for Defence Force families and extend it as a nationwide program.

RESERVES

Federal Labor recognises the vital role Reserves play in our Defence Forces.

Under Labor, the skills of reservists will be relied upon more extensively to develop an enhanced humanitarian assistance and disaster relief Reserve capability, suited to responding to humanitarian crises, disaster situations and peacekeeping operations.

$10.8 million will be allocated from within existing Defence resources for the new capability.

This new Labor commitment will ensure that personnel with specialist backgrounds, such as engineering, medical and logistics, will be able to be deployed and work closely with other civilian agencies. They will cross-train with relevant civilian authorities so they can work effectively and seamlessly with other organisations during domestic crises, such as the Victorian bushfires.

The Government has already increased funding for Reserve training salaries over the past three years, and is committed to continuing to adequately fund Reserves.

A Gillard Labor Government will make sure Defence receives adequate funding to provide every Reservist with sufficient training days to meet their training requirement.

Funding for these initiatives to look after our wounded, provide the best health care and provide new opportunities for our Reserves will be accommodated from within Defence’s existing budget.

CANBERRA 16 AUGUST 2010

COMMUNICATIONS UNIT: Phone: (02) 9384 2220 | Fax: (02) 9264 2213  www.alp.org.au    AUTHORISED N.MARTIN for the ALP, 5/9 Sydney Ave. Barton ACT.