Veteran and senator Jacqui Lambie has backed calls from the federal opposition to allow foreigners to join the Australian Defence Force.
The idea, put forward by the opposition’s Defence spokesman and former SAS commander Andrew Hastie, would allow Pacific Islanders to enlist in the ADF, in turn giving them an accelerated pathway to Australian citizenship.
After the Defence Strategic Review found the ADF was facing “significant workforce challenges” and needed 18,500 personnel by 2040, Senator Lambie said there was “no reason” there shouldn’t be a shake-up to the Defence Force.
In comments given to the Nine papers, Mr Hastie has proposed citizens from friendly countries, like New Zealand, the US and Japan be allowed to enlist in the ADF.
Senator Lambie backed the idea, noting the ADF is struggling to maintain its current recruits, let alone scale up by 30 per cent over the coming two decades.
Jacqui Lambie has supported an idea to allow foreigners – especially Pacific Islanders – to join the ADF. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Glenn Campbell
“Pacific Islanders and New Zealanders … they’ve been going to and from this country for a long time,” Senator Lambie told Sky News.
“There’s no reason why we couldn’t do like the Marines do down here where they’re sitting on top of Australia, why we couldn’t export ourselves over there, train their people as well and also have a battalion over there with Pacific Islanders over there somewhere.
“There’s nothing stopping it.”
Mr Hastie said with immigration about to increase, Australia should considering opening service in the ADF as “an accelerated pathway to citizenship”.
“If someone is willing to fight and die for our country, we should take them over a $5m golden visa any day of the week,” he said.
If the idea did go ahead, Australia would follow the likes of France, which established the French Foreign Legion in 1831, and New Zealand, where serving members of Australian, British, American or Canadian militaries can join the country’s Defence Force.
Senator Jacqui Lambie says more needs to be done to bolster the ADF. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Senator Lambie said there needed to be a broader review into the process of recruitment, noting that an extra 18,500 personnel mightn’t be enough.
“There is a massive problem with recruitment,” she said. “It’s taking months and months and months, and by the time our kids actually want to sign up, they’re waiting … and they find other jobs and … that is a massive problem,” she said.
“It should be that from the time they put their paperwork in, there is a 12-week turnaround … That’s how it should be.
“The other thing is stop judging people because they already have a record or are coming from public housing … If these kids are turning their lives around, then let them have a shot.”