Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett is pushing for Australia to bring back mandatory national service for young people — claiming it will stop them from being part of a “society of entitlement”.
Kennett, who was one of the thousands of young men conscripted to the military during the Vietnam War, believes forcing young Aussies to complete at least a year of national or civic service will be a “unifying point” for the country.
“I don’t think we have the community spirit that could be generated among our young if a form – not so much of national service, but civic service – was introduced,” he told Sky News.
“So that means that every male and female from say the age of 20 is called up for one or two years.”
Kennett said people would have a choice of going into the military, a first responder group like the police force or SES, or even a conservation core.
The renewed push is being put forward by the Victorian Young Liberals, with the motion claiming 12-months of national service would “give young Australians the chance to give back to our country”.
Jeff Kennett is backing calls for mandatory national service for young Aussies. Picture: Graham Denholm/Getty Images
The motion claims it will also instil a “sense of pride and identity” among young Australians, which will, in turn, create a “more cohesive and unified society”.
However, Kennett was firm that young people would not be rewarded with any extra benefits for their service, such as a credit towards future university fees.
“No there are no credits, you’re not doing this because you want to get something out of it over and above what every other Australian would get,” he said.
“You do it because it’s the law, you do it because it’s your country. And you learn as an individual a great deal as you’re doing the service.”
New Victorian Young Liberals executive George Mihailidis says the proposal is scheduled to be deliberated at the upcoming 170th State Council.
The 21-year-old told the Herald Sun that compulsory national service is exactly what young Australians like him need.
“It would equip young Australians with a range of valuable skills and experiences that are transferable to the workforce,” he said.
“It also has the potential to mitigate welfare dependency among young Australians by affording them the opportunity to acquire skills and work experience.”
However, there are those in the Liberal Party who do not support the proposal.
There are many ways to serve our community. To do so in uniform is an honour that should not be compelled. https://t.co/NQnuoDiRgM
— Keith Wolahan MP (@keithwolahan) May 14, 2023
Federal Member for Menzies, Keith Wolahan, said young Australian’s should not be “compelled” into national service.
“There are many ways to serve our community. To do so in uniform is an honour that should not be compelled,” he said.
Wolahan is a former officer in the Commandos and told Sky News forcing young people into national service is “not necessary” and “illiberal”.
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Former Liberal candidate and veteran, Lucas Moon, said he would be speaking against the motion at the State Council next weekend.
“I’m all about incentivising our incredible young Australians to step up and serve! Not mandating,” he said.