THE Australian Defence Force has defended its protocol requiring political party candidates to discharge from the army after the Liberal candidate for Cannington deemed it “unconstitional.”
Enlisted members – both regular and reserve – nominating as a candidate in a Federal, State or Territory election may not undertake paid service while contesting an election, and must discharge from service.
A spokesman from the ADF said the policy, introduced late last year, was designed to ensure the ADF remained apolitical and if the candidate was unsuccessful in their bid for the respective parliament the candidate could resume their career within the ADF.
“As a condition of their service, regular and reserve members of the Australian Defence Force are obliged to comply with various Defence instructions and policies,” he said.
“Should a candidate be unsuccessful, there are mechanisms through which they can resume their service without penalty.”
The ADF spokesman said the agency and those within it must serve the government of the day, and therefore the political associations of members must not be questioned.
“In participating in any political activity, the ability of Defence members to properly serve the government of the day, whatever political party is in office, must not be called into question,” he said.
“Therefore, when engaging in political activities, Defence members must avoid giving the impression that such activities are being undertaken in other than a private capacity.”
Candidate Jesse Jacobs, a former Private in the reserves said the ruling was discriminatory.
“I argue it is unconstitutional, I say it’s discrimination,” he said.