POSITIVE POLICY

Defence Remuneration Reform

To ensure greater fairness and transparency in remuneration for the Australian Defence Force, a Shorten Labor Government will reform Defence’s Workplace Remuneration Arrangement and the means by which ADF pay and conditions are determined.

Unlike most employees, ADF personnel are not legally entitled to cooperatively negotiate their pay, conditions and terms of employment.

Instead, proposed wage rises are jointly determined by the Australian Government and the ADF. These proposals are then approved or rejected by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, which has no arbitral powers in this case and can only approve or reject. ADF members rely on independent peak associations, such as the Defence Force Welfare Association, to advocate for them in this process.

In 2014, the Abbott-Turnbull Government shockingly botched the pay deal for our sailors, soldiers and air force personnel.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s initial offer consisted of a below inflation pay rise of 1.5 per cent per annum over three years, and cuts to precious recreational and Christmas leave.

Following a campaign led by the Defence community and supported by Labor, the Liberals ultimately settled on a 2 per cent per annum increase and the maintenance of existing conditions.

The Liberals’ mishandling of ADF pay highlighted the inadequacies in the current process used to set ADF pay and conditions. This process was roundly criticised by Defence commentators as being conflicted and non-consultative.

Labor’s plan

A Shorten Labor Government will provide ADF personnel with a greater voice in the remuneration process by providing appropriate resources for the Defence Force Welfare Association to undertake this role.

Labor will safeguard fairness and transparency in the setting of remuneration for the ADF through:

  • The provision of a grant of $100,000 per annum to improve the capacity of the Defence Force Welfare Association to advocate on behalf of ADF members, particularly in relation to remuneration determinations. 
  • Amending, where needed, and in consultation with stakeholders, the timelines and processes by which a future Labor Government would make ADF remuneration determinations.