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Burton Must Protect Volunteer Soldiers' Jobs

It is a disgrace that Government departments are forcing territorial soldiers out of their jobs for serving their country and securing peace in the region, National's Defence spokesperson Dr Wayne Mapp said today.

"The Minister of Defence must take action and give some direction. Government departments and Crown entities must keep their employees' jobs open and support what is in effect their own Government's defence decisions.

"The Government should be ashamed that its own departments, including the Department of Conservation and Inland Revenue, have joined private employers in forcing territorials serving in East Timor to give up their livelihoods.

"Tragically, the numbers joining the territorials are dwindling. We need to be more supportive and protective of our part-time soldiers, as is the case in Australia, the UK and US.

"Territorial soldiers deserve the right to reasonable expect that they can be deployed overseas and honourably carry out their duty without fear of losing their civilian jobs.

Dr Mapp's private members bill titled 'Volunteers Employment Protection Amendment Bill' is currently before select committee for consideration. It essentially provides job protection for a volunteer for up to 12 months.

"With the Government scaling down Defence, it's more important than ever for the Minister of Defence to get in behind and support our part-time soldiers and their service to our country," Dr Mapp said.


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