The Morally Repugnant Proposal of Australian Conscription

As many of my readers know, I had the privilege of serving not only as President of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation from 2006-2008, but also under (then NSW President) Noel McCoy as Vice-President (Policy) of the NSW Division of the Young Liberal Movement.

In both these positions I strove to promote true Liberal ideology – that of  free markets, small government, and most importantly, individual freedom.

This is why I am shocked and appalled that Noel, in his current position as Federal President of the Young Liberal movement, is advocating conscription for all Australians under the age of 24 – and, what’s more, mandating that “students would not be able to graduate from university without a certificate of completion of national service”.

Such a proposal is the antithesis of everything that the Liberal Party is based upon. Not only does it attack our fundamental rights as individuals, it destroys the ethos of voluntary co-operation upon which our great country is built. It is for good reason that we attacked Young Labor for a similar media-stunt proposal a few years ago.

Rather than proposing using the coercive power of the state to mandate ‘National Service’, perhaps its advocates should first learn what it entails; start leading by example and volunteer for such service themselves. Indeed, I wonder, will any of the movers or speakers in favor of this motion have done any service? If not, why not? Why is it good enough everyone else but not them…

As the Liberal Party struggles to find its way forward under a Rudd Administration, it must remember its roots and embrace its core principles of individual rights. This proposal takes us exactly in the wrong direction.

Update: The Australian website has a poll on this. Vote.

Update 2:  I was so reeling in shock when I read this article that I completely missed the significance of the following line:

“Young Liberal president Noel McCoy said the aim was to provide a sizeable low-cost workforce that would help to offset the effects of the financial crisis.”

Wow. This isn’t slavery by analogy, it’s actually a call for slave labor. Noel is actually calling for the government to force people to work on projects that the taxpayer and the market is unwilling to fund.

Again, wow.

(Thanks to Ben for pointing it out in comments)



16 Responses to “The Morally Repugnant Proposal of Australian Conscription”

  1. Chris K Says:

    Tim which party implemented conscription in the 50’s? I think you are a little confused. What is better working in retail or learning some respect?

  2. Ben Raue Says:

    How about the morally repugnant idea that we deal with the potential increasing unemployment problem by forcibly removing young people from the workforce? Although the economics behind it seem to be complete crap.

  3. Ben Raue Says:

    Also, this policy drives at the heart of what’s wrong with Young Liberal and Young Labor (from when NSW Young Labor proposed a similar policy a few years ago). In the end, the groups don’t represent young people within their parties. Rather they spend their time strutting in order to impress old people to get ahead in the party. How many young people in the community would support young people being forced into service for nine months?

  4. Michael Josem Says:

    Well written, Tim.

    It seems self-evident to me that if you believe in the rights of the individual, you should oppose this attack on freedom.

    I don’t understand why there are so many people who hate freedom and oppose individual self-responsibility.

  5. Oz Hun Says:

    yeah but what else do you expect from the NSW Libs these days?

    since 2004 they became some sort of hybrid mish-mash of soft leftist careerists calling themselves ‘conservatives’ (of which Tim i must say you were partly responsible!)

    almost (note, almost) every President i can remember of the NSW YLs has been a complete loser with no social skills. And Mr McCoy is a backstabbing arsehole anyway, so i wouldnt expect any less from him.

  6. Simon Gaukroger Says:

    Tim, well said.

    Yet another example of how out of touch the youth wing of the Liberal Party is. When will they start using their brains before they produce such crap and shun everyone who opposes it, even members of their own party.

    Other points to concider is that conscripts are not nearly half as well trained as people who join up by choice. If I were in the army, I wouldn’t want to put my life in the hands of someone who didn’t really give a toss and was only there because they needed to in order to graduate uni.

    Conscription was one of the reasons why the body count was so high for the US during the 70’s in Vietnam.

    It may solve some of the social issues facing the youth of Australia, but I would rather have a smaller, better trainned and more professional militray then lessen the quality with half heart national service troops.


  7. Butters Says:

    Well written.

    Compulsory National Service is not only bad policy, it’s bad politics. As a committed Young Liberal, I am frustrated to see a policy being sold to the media as if all Young Liberals support it.

    The Young Liberal federal convention starts today and it is highly possible that this policy motion will be rejected by the majority of delegates from across the country.

    I don’t think that this policy “drives at the heart of what’s wrong with Young Liberal and Young Labor” because the policy hasn’t actually been passed at the federal convention.

    The Young Liberals as a broad group actually do a very effective job of representing young people within the Liberal Party, but on various occasions, one person comes out and says something stupid that damages that credibility.

    The Liberal Students (distinctly seperate from the Young Liberals) have been the driving force behind opposition to the alcopops tax, the internet filter, compulsory student unionism and other big government ‘initiatives’ by the Rudd government.

    The Liberal Students have fought hard to preserve the small government ideology of the Liberal Party on issues that are not only tangible and practical, but which are also important to young people in Australia.

    The Young Liberal Movement has supported this in most states, but all that Mr McCoy’s comments have done is undermine that credibility.

    As a whole, the Young Liberals and Liberal Students are doing a good job of representing young people and the small government agenda within the Liberal Party. It is disappointing to see that good work undermined by the reckless comments of an outgoing President.

  8. Eric Hood Says:

    If you find National Service repugnant then you should look at work for the dole schemes. Local councils love the idea.

    Free labour, the government says they are learning valuable skills. Skills like cleaning toilets and cutting lantana. The councils have no plan to give these people full time work and they learn no valuable skills.

    A big vote winner with the ignorant public so it lives on despite it being useless.

  9. Ralph Buttigieg Says:


    Work for the dole is not conscription. You don’t have to take part in work for the dole scheme. you can get a job, bludge of somebody, live off your savings etc. Conscription is compulsory, it amounts to slavery.

    However didn’t Obama propose a similar scheme? I wouldn’t be surprised if they are just aping the One.

  10. Eric Hood Says:

    In Queensland work for the dole was compulsory for long term unemployed and is compulsory in areas of the Northern Territory.

  11. Dave Bath Says:

    Is the YoungLib position also consistent with “National Service” for corporate profits? All dividends or pre-tax profits to go into the national coffers for a year or two, before the capital (not the interest) is returned to the company.

  12. Tim Says:

    To be fair, this isn’t the Young Liberal position yet – it’s just the personal view of the Federal President…

  13. Nolan Says:

    What are we going to do about all these fags, though?

  14. Tim Says:

    Shut up.

  15. NSW Right in factional war: Tim’s Thoughts « The musings of an Australian classical liberal in Washington DC Says:

    […] socially authoritarian views. One need only look at the recent support of some of these people for Obama-style community service conscription, or censoring the internet – the complete antithesis of conservative thought. This isn’t […]

  16. Conspription, Coercion & The Rule of Law « Wchurch’s Weblog Says:

    […] August 24, 2009 at 2:09 pm · Filed under Uncategorized This is a long overdue reply to the characterisation of compulsory military conscription as “coercive” and anathema to alleged “liberal values.” I’ve perhaps not captured here the level of moral indignation expressed by Mr Andrew’s in his blog. That said I find sifting through all that platitude to uncover salient argument a nauseating exercise. His diatribe can be viewed in all it’s glory here:… […]

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