Call for non-violent public servants in Defence Department by concerned citizens

The Department of Defence should have a "non‐violent peace force advisory unit", according to a submission to the Defence white paper. 

Amid submissions from powerful unions, private companies, local councils and lobby groups to the review of Defence's long-term capability there has also been dozens of suggestions made by lesser known individuals.

Defence Minister David Johnston's six person expert panel will be reading thousands of suggestions including one from a small group of concerned citizens from Alice Springs suggesting a special cluster of bureaucrats expert in non-violence.

"The unit would be an independent advisory unit funded by divesting a small percentage of the future growth money budgeted in the Defence Budget and assessed against the outcomes achieved," said the submission from Chris Hawke, Chris Warren, Jonathan Pilbrow and Rosalie Schultz.

They said more than 1.5 billion people lived in nations that faced repeated violence and at least 75 percent of those victims were not soldiers but civilians.


"We believe new ways need to be implemented which address the root causes of violence and provide practical tools for communities and families situated in conflict zones, to enable them to work for more peaceful solutions at their local level," the submission said.

"New ways are emerging for dealing with violent conflicts in the world, through the use of non-violent peace force workers."

In another submission Paul Jeffery argued the Defence Department secretary position should be abolished and a uniformed commander should run the ADF and a leaner bureaucracy while Grant Spork - a "surf life saver, bush walker and camper with skills in small marine craft and four-wheel driving" - suggested the re-introduction of national service. 

"Very few young Australians have fired a gun, have survival skills or the tenacity to undertake basic military training, which is the basis of our past ability to quickly prepare for conflict in a crisis," Mr Spork said.  

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The Abbott government wants to increase defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP and at the same time is trimming civilian Defence Department staff by 2300. 

Eddy Barnett wrote to the white paper panel saying that as a retired interstate truck driver he had been concerned about the possibility of Australia's fuel supplies being cut suddenly to force the nation into submission.

"One way to ensure a cost effective way to maintain emergency supplies may be to build a number of cheap submarines that would float like a log and rest on a prepared bed at suitable beaches allowing a 1-kilometre long train onto a beachhead track and back on via an opening in the nose," he said. 

"They could be made out of concrete or steel anywhere in Australia and indeed there could be an export market for them for trade to isolated places in the world.

"In case of emergency a control pod attached to the top could be released and used as a life boat.

"In peace times they would be non‐threatening and could pay for themselves by connecting many isolated places in the world to trade including small towns on the Australian coast.

"In times of hostilities they would be very hard to detect, could land army equipment on most beaches and could even sink an enemy ship by ramming it."  

Another submission, from senior international relations lecturer at the University of Queensland Matt McDonald, said the Defence Department should commit to the development of a climate change strategy.

"This would entail a focus on the ways in which climate change will potentially impact on homeland security resources; military capabilities, the wellbeing of its personnel and procurement," Dr McDonald said.

"I would hope the department systematically examines the implications of climate change for increased pressures to provide disaster relief at home and abroad and contribute to complex security implications of climate change associated with large‐scale population movements in the region.

"In our immediate region, for example, a combination of rising sea levels and an increase in severity and frequency of natural disasters suggest a need to consider how ADF resources, such as amphibious vessels, might be equipped for the rapid evacuation of people."

The department's climate change policy at the moment focuses on how Defence can reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions.