Come here and serve, says Aussie military

By Kathy Marks

Overseas recruits will be fastracked to Australian citizenship. Photo / Supplied
Overseas recruits will be fastracked to Australian citizenship. Photo / Supplied

The Australian Defence Force, struggling to attract personnel because of competition with the mining industry, has turned its sights overseas and is seeking to recruit from New Zealand, Canada, the United States and particularly Britain.

Public spending cuts by the British Government will see military budgets slashed between now and 2015. The ADF hopes to scoop up some of the retrenched soldiers, sailors and air crew, and is offering the sweetener of a fast-track path to Australian citizenship.

Special forces officers, fighter pilots and submarine warfare officers are among the specialists sought by the country's three services.

Engineers are in particularly high demand, and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) recently sent a delegation to Britain to recruit sailors with engineering experience, according to the Australian.

The Defence Force is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with wages and conditions offered by the booming resources industry. The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, told the Sydney Morning Herald that - in a reversal of the old Navy press-gang tradition - industry recruiters waited on the docks in Western Australia for skilled naval personnel disembarking off ships.

An ADF spokeswoman said the RAN was working closely with the Royal Navy to offer jobs to people earmarked for redundancy, provided they met Australia's requirements. More than 5000 Royal Navy personnel are to be laid off as part of the defence cuts, ordered by Britain's coalition Government as a response to economic hard times.

Overseas recruits who join the Australian services will be given a permanent resident visa, and will then be able to apply for citizenship three months later - rather than having to wait the standard two years after being granted permanent residence.

As well as maintaining troops in Afghanistan, the ADF needs to attract trained personnel for a new generation of ships and aircraft. The Navy, which is looking for people to crew its submarines and a fleet of new warships, is casting its recruitment net as far afield as New Zealand, Canada and the US, according to the Australian.

The new ships include a fleet of Air Warfare Destroyers, currently being built at a cost of A$8 billion ($10.5 billion), and massive 28,000-tonne landing ships. The RAN and Royal Navy operated as one service until the end of World War II, and nowadays sailors and officers regularly transfer from one to the other.

- NZ Herald

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