Doorstop Interview, Canberra

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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4 June 2024

SUBJECT: ADF recruitment.

JOURNALIST: Okay minister, one of your colleagues Matt Keogh said this morning that from January recruitment will open to any other country, is it really any other country, could a permanent citizen from China serve in the Australian Defence Force?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: It's an important announcement. Today, we are crossing the Rubicon of allowing non-citizens to join the Australian Defence Force. But I would say it's a very limited step in this direction from the first of July, it will open to Kiwis. And beyond that we're really focusing on Five Eyes countries and then the Pacific. Of course, you need to have been an Australian permanent resident for a year, we'd be looking for Australian citizenship within the first 90 days of becoming a member of the Defence Force. And all the security checks which apply to anyone who joins the Defence Force now would apply to this cohort. But this is a fundamentally important step to not only keep the levels of Defence Force at the at the funded level, but to grow the defence force into the future, which we must do.

JOURNALIST: Do you see this as the first step or do you expect to expand it to make it easier for foreigners to join?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: Well, in terms of who we're focusing on, we've really articulated that. New Zealand, Five Eyes, the Pacific, we are targeting 350 people to join in the financial year 24-25. That is a relatively small number in terms of what we need to be doing going forward. And so in that sense, you know, we do hope that over time, we are able to grow this idea. But what we're focusing on is New Zealand, Five Eyes and the Pacific

JOURNALIST: Just to clarify, will there be countries barred from taking part in this?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: We are focusing on New Zealand from the first of July. And then we're looking at Five Eyes countries and the Pacific from the beginning of next year. That is our focus. And all the security checks that would normally apply to any Australian joining the Defence Force will apply to this cohort. It is an important step going forward. It's a significant crossing of the Rubicon today. But we're doing it in a pretty limited way at the moment. But we do need to be growing our Defence Force, which is what we plan to do through to the year 2040.

JOURNALIST: Would a Chinese permanent resident be welcome to join the Defence Force, would you would you embrace them subject to security checks and things like that?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: Well, I think I've answered the question. Our focus is in terms of expanding this beyond Australian citizens, which is how it applies now. Kiwis from the first of July. And beyond that, our focus is on Five Eyes and the Pacific.

JOURNALIST: The paperwork suggests that it's all permanent migrants, permanent residents. Is it or is it not all permanent residents?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: You need to have been a permanent resident in Australia to qualify for this, for at least a year. But I reiterate what I've just said. From the first of July it's Kiwis and beyond that the focus is on Five Eyes and the Pacific. Thanks.


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