Flat White

Should Morrison propose compulsory military service to win the election?

4 April 2022

9:00 AM

4 April 2022

9:00 AM

Long-serving Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has identified national security as the channel in which Scott Morrison should swim to secure electoral victory.

Anthony Albanese is clever, and he’s been agreeing to everything in order to present himself as bipartisan on most security issues.

What’s actually needed is for the Coalition to announce a high-profile policy that can’t be easily ignored, and one that most voters would find sensible, but would split the ALP in half, unleashing political mayhem.

One policy that might fit this bill is compulsory military service for all Australian school leavers. This is an old policy, but one whose time has come and it offers a lot of benefits.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the President Zelenskyy-led resistance has legitimised the idea of creating a citizenry that can take up arms effectively if needed.

When Russia first invaded, Zelenskyy requested those with military experience to report for service. Later he called on all males aged 18 to 60.

About 85 countries currently require young men to train and/or serve in the military.

Israel requires 24-48 months of service (both males and females); Brazil 10-12 months; Singapore 24 months; Switzerland 245 days of training; Denmark 4-12 months; Turkey 6-12 months; UAE 16-24 months. In most countries, there are avenues for exemption.

The idea of compulsory service is often the end-point conclusion when adults consider the situation of aimless and lazy youth.

Just a few days ago, I was told about a 19-year-old kid who plays video games all day, having dropped out of school at 16. He has no interest in finding work and lives at home with meals cooked.

The extent to which a civilian population can serve as a military force is dependent upon two main factors.

One is that large numbers of them are willing to fight. Secondly, those willing need to have the capacity to do so.

On this latter issue, compulsory military service is of great value. School leavers learn to use guns and other weapons, understand communication and logistics, they get physically and mentally strong, and they learn to survive in difficult environments.

Other benefits exist as well. One reason credited for Israel’s incredible technology start-up industry is that compulsory military service exposes young Israelis to advanced military technologies, inspiring many to work in technology.

When they finish their service, many form start-up companies with fellow soldiers, bound together by the close relationship built during that time.

Compulsory military service would be good for Australia as well.

Australia already has a strong military capability, built on access to advanced American and UK technology and a well-trained and resourced professional force. A better and deeper fighting capacity in the wider population would greatly enhance our potential effectiveness, particularly if one day our vast landmass is subject to invasion.

With China looking to expand its interests in our region, Australia will increasingly be involved in military conflict. We may well end up in actual conflicts of our own.

Politically, I believe Morrison could win an election with this policy. It could split the ALP, shore up the right and Hanson supporters, and may also be surprisingly popular amongst youth.

I say this based on the sort of computer games young people tend to play and enjoy. Many involve heavily-armed characters running through urban landscapes inflicting extraordinary carnage on everything around them.

Morrison could even use it to bolster his female policy credentials, by making service compulsory for men but optional for women.

The Ukraine conflict has, strangely, popularised and normalised the idea of armed citizenry. Zelenskyy has sort of made it cool again. Indeed, compulsory service may be surprisingly popular.

Nick Hossack is a public policy consultant. He is a former policy director at the Australian Bankers’ Association and former adviser to Prime Minister John Howard.

Before she left in the morning, while her son was still sleeping, she physically removed the modem, preventing his internet access.

The aim was to encourage the boy to leave the house. She also put her phone into flight mode to shield herself from the inevitable frantic phone calls. When she returned later that night, her house had been wholly upended. Every plate, glass, and coffee mug had been smashed in what appeared to have been a prolonged fit of rage.

When I heard that story, my instant thought was to put that kid in the army where he could be properly disciplined by his superiors, and also by those in his unit who don’t want to do extra drills because of his laziness.

More seriously, perhaps, is what we are learning from the Ukraine conflict. A common view is that the existence of nuclear weapons eliminated the prospect of wide-scale war.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that the existence of nuclear weapons can give cover to a country to invade another one. Russia’s capacity to fire a nuclear missile has prevented the USA, Europe, and Australia from directly entering the conflict.

We have also learned that a population willing to fight back is an extraordinary military asset, especially when combined with nationalist fervour.

The extent to which a civilian population can serve as a military force is dependent upon two main factors.

One is that large numbers of them are willing to fight. Secondly, those willing need to have the capacity to do so.

On this latter issue, compulsory military service is of great value. School leavers learn to use guns and other weapons, understand communication and logistics, they get physically and mentally strong, and they learn to survive in difficult environments.

Other benefits exist as well. One reason credited for Israel’s incredible technology start-up industry is that compulsory military service exposes young Israelis to advanced military technologies, inspiring many to work in technology.

When they finish their service, many form start-up companies with fellow soldiers, bound together by the close relationship built during that time.

Compulsory military service would be good for Australia as well.

Australia already has a strong military capability, built on access to advanced American and UK technology and a well-trained and resourced professional force. A better and deeper fighting capacity in the wider population would greatly enhance our potential effectiveness, particularly if one day our vast landmass is subject to invasion.

With China looking to expand its interests in our region, Australia will increasingly be involved in military conflict. We may well end up in actual conflicts of our own.

Politically, I believe Morrison could win an election with this policy. It could split the ALP, shore up the right and Hanson supporters, and may also be surprisingly popular amongst youth.

I say this based on the sort of computer games young people tend to play and enjoy. Many involve heavily-armed characters running through urban landscapes inflicting extraordinary carnage on everything around them.


Morrison could even use it to bolster his female policy credentials, by making service compulsory for men but optional for women.

The Ukraine conflict has, strangely, popularised and normalised the idea of armed citizenry. Zelenskyy has sort of made it cool again. Indeed, compulsory service may be surprisingly popular.

Nick Hossack is a public policy consultant. He is a former policy director at the Australian Bankers’ Association and former adviser to Prime Minister John Howard.

He was raised by a single mother who finds herself powerless to stop him from gaming, let alone able to motivate him. She once arranged to spend a full day at the Hunter Valley with a friend. Before she left in the morning, while her son was still sleeping, she physically removed the modem, preventing his internet access.

The aim was to encourage the boy to leave the house. She also put her phone into flight mode to shield herself from the inevitable frantic phone calls. When she returned later that night, her house had been wholly upended. Every plate, glass, and coffee mug had been smashed in what appeared to have been a prolonged fit of rage.

When I heard that story, my instant thought was to put that kid in the army where he could be properly disciplined by his superiors, and also by those in his unit who don’t want to do extra drills because of his laziness.

More seriously, perhaps, is what we are learning from the Ukraine conflict. A common view is that the existence of nuclear weapons eliminated the prospect of wide-scale war.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that the existence of nuclear weapons can give cover to a country to invade another one. Russia’s capacity to fire a nuclear missile has prevented the USA, Europe, and Australia from directly entering the conflict.

We have also learned that a population willing to fight back is an extraordinary military asset, especially when combined with nationalist fervour.

The extent to which a civilian population can serve as a military force is dependent upon two main factors.

One is that large numbers of them are willing to fight. Secondly, those willing need to have the capacity to do so.

On this latter issue, compulsory military service is of great value. School leavers learn to use guns and other weapons, understand communication and logistics, they get physically and mentally strong, and they learn to survive in difficult environments.

Other benefits exist as well. One reason credited for Israel’s incredible technology start-up industry is that compulsory military service exposes young Israelis to advanced military technologies, inspiring many to work in technology.

When they finish their service, many form start-up companies with fellow soldiers, bound together by the close relationship built during that time.

Compulsory military service would be good for Australia as well.

Australia already has a strong military capability, built on access to advanced American and UK technology and a well-trained and resourced professional force. A better and deeper fighting capacity in the wider population would greatly enhance our potential effectiveness, particularly if one day our vast landmass is subject to invasion.

With China looking to expand its interests in our region, Australia will increasingly be involved in military conflict. We may well end up in actual conflicts of our own.

Politically, I believe Morrison could win an election with this policy. It could split the ALP, shore up the right and Hanson supporters, and may also be surprisingly popular amongst youth.

I say this based on the sort of computer games young people tend to play and enjoy. Many involve heavily-armed characters running through urban landscapes inflicting extraordinary carnage on everything around them.

Morrison could even use it to bolster his female policy credentials, by making service compulsory for men but optional for women.

The Ukraine conflict has, strangely, popularised and normalised the idea of armed citizenry. Zelenskyy has sort of made it cool again. Indeed, compulsory service may be surprisingly popular.

Nick Hossack is a public policy consultant. He is a former policy director at the Australian Bankers’ Association and former adviser to Prime Minister John Howard.

He was raised by a single mother who finds herself powerless to stop him from gaming, let alone able to motivate him. She once arranged to spend a full day at the Hunter Valley with a friend. Before she left in the morning, while her son was still sleeping, she physically removed the modem, preventing his internet access.

The aim was to encourage the boy to leave the house. She also put her phone into flight mode to shield herself from the inevitable frantic phone calls. When she returned later that night, her house had been wholly upended. Every plate, glass, and coffee mug had been smashed in what appeared to have been a prolonged fit of rage.

When I heard that story, my instant thought was to put that kid in the army where he could be properly disciplined by his superiors, and also by those in his unit who don’t want to do extra drills because of his laziness.

More seriously, perhaps, is what we are learning from the Ukraine conflict. A common view is that the existence of nuclear weapons eliminated the prospect of wide-scale war.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that the existence of nuclear weapons can give cover to a country to invade another one. Russia’s capacity to fire a nuclear missile has prevented the USA, Europe, and Australia from directly entering the conflict.

We have also learned that a population willing to fight back is an extraordinary military asset, especially when combined with nationalist fervour.

The extent to which a civilian population can serve as a military force is dependent upon two main factors.

One is that large numbers of them are willing to fight. Secondly, those willing need to have the capacity to do so.

On this latter issue, compulsory military service is of great value. School leavers learn to use guns and other weapons, understand communication and logistics, they get physically and mentally strong, and they learn to survive in difficult environments.

Other benefits exist as well. One reason credited for Israel’s incredible technology start-up industry is that compulsory military service exposes young Israelis to advanced military technologies, inspiring many to work in technology.

When they finish their service, many form start-up companies with fellow soldiers, bound together by the close relationship built during that time.

Compulsory military service would be good for Australia as well.

Australia already has a strong military capability, built on access to advanced American and UK technology and a well-trained and resourced professional force. A better and deeper fighting capacity in the wider population would greatly enhance our potential effectiveness, particularly if one day our vast landmass is subject to invasion.

With China looking to expand its interests in our region, Australia will increasingly be involved in military conflict. We may well end up in actual conflicts of our own.

Politically, I believe Morrison could win an election with this policy. It could split the ALP, shore up the right and Hanson supporters, and may also be surprisingly popular amongst youth.

I say this based on the sort of computer games young people tend to play and enjoy. Many involve heavily-armed characters running through urban landscapes inflicting extraordinary carnage on everything around them.

Morrison could even use it to bolster his female policy credentials, by making service compulsory for men but optional for women.

The Ukraine conflict has, strangely, popularised and normalised the idea of armed citizenry. Zelenskyy has sort of made it cool again. Indeed, compulsory service may be surprisingly popular.

Nick Hossack is a public policy consultant. He is a former policy director at the Australian Bankers’ Association and former adviser to Prime Minister John Howard.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.


Show comments
Close