Farrago Policy Comparisons #4: Defence

What do the parties and candidates say about national security issues?


Content warning: war, natural disasters in no explicit detail.


The last year has seen a series of turbulent events with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the Chinese security deal with the Solomon Islands. Closer to home, major natural disasters have devastated communities and raised climate change as another security concern.

What do the parties and candidates say about national security issues?


Key people: Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Defence), Andrew Gee MP (Minister for Veterans Affairs; Minister for Defence Personnel), Andrew Hastie MP (Assistant Minister for Defence).

Unprecedented natural disasters, such as the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires or 2022 Queensland Floods, compelled the Federal Government to utilise the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in disaster relief.

In 2021, France joined the “disappointed with Australia’s submarine choices” clubs with Japan, Germany and the Swedes. Australia switched to a nuclear-powered submarine deal from the United Kingdom or United States, under the new AUKUS security. Adding to the $5.5 sunk cost from the French deal, the new submarines will cost upwards of $170 billion over the next couple of decades.

With the Ukraine conflict, the Government donated several Bushmaster armoured vehicles and invited President Zelensky to speak to the Australian Parliament.

More Liberal defence policies include:

  • More support for veterans for income and mental health, along with a Royal Commissions into Defence and Veterans Suicide (now ongoing).
  • More support for the Australian Signals Directorate for cyber-security (with the wonderfully acronymed REDSPICE program).
  • Delivering new vessels under the Government Naval Shipbuilding Plan.


Key people: Brendan O’Connor MP (Shadow Minister for Defence), Tim Watts MP (Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security), Pat Conroy MP (Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence).

Labor has given support to major defence projects and alliances, such as the AUKUS agreement and nuclear-powered submarines.

Having advocated for the aforementioned Royal Commission, Labor emphasises the need for more mental health and other support for veterans.

Labor also wants a holistic approach to security, including with economic resilience, strengthening our democracy and trust in institutions, and greater action on climate change.

More policies include:

  • A dedicated Minister for Cyber-Security and more cyber resilience across society.
  • Commissioning an Urgent Climate Risk Assessment to review climate challenges for Australian security.


Key people: Senator Jordon Steele-John (Spokesperson for Nuclear; Peace and Disarmament; Veteran’s Affairs).

The Greens emphasise the Climate Crisis and nuclear weapons as the “greatest threats to meaningful world peace.” Hence they want much stronger climate action and disaster responses. They also oppose any nuclear armed or powered armaments in Australian territory.

In 2020, the Greens introduced the Parliamentary Approval over Overseas Service Bill, which would require Parliamentary approval for foreign ADF deployments.

They also want more health or employment support for veterans and their families, along with recognition of First Nations veterans.

More Greens policies include:

  • Promoting civil society organisations and women's groups for conflict prevention and peacemaking.
  • Ending any bullying or harassment within the ADF.


Independent Senator for South Australia Rex Patrick, a former submariner, has drawn attention to the threat of foreign interference in Australia.


Minor Parties
The Australian Democrats support Parliamentary approval of ADF overseas deployments. They also want more cost-effective defence projects, such as conventional (instead of nuclear) submarines.

The Australian Values Party is led by special forces major and veterans mental health advocate Heston Russell. They propose an auxiliary National Guard to respond to natural disasters and emergencies.

The Derryn Hinch Justice Party (DHJP) has advocated for more mental health support and compensation for veterans, including a proposal to revamp a St Kilda rehab hospital for veterans.

The Fusion Party wants to secure supply chains for essential production, such as food or medicine, along with deepening social resilience and trust in government.

The United Australia Party (UAP) supports buying submarines from the United States and has advocated for an expansion of the Veterans gold card (which gives medical benefits).

Conversely, the Victorian Socialists oppose any new major defence projects or military alliances such as ANZUS.

Socialist Alliance similarly wants to divert defence spending towards climate or humanitarian aid, and have more human rights advocacy for oppressed groups.






Angelique Donnellan. April 2022. “Will Australia’s nuclear submarines end up being built overseas?” ABC.




Rex Patrick




Australian Democrats


Australian Values Party






Sustainable Australia Party




Victorian Socialists


Socialist Alliance

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