Leading article: The Navy goes south

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The Independent Online

Why wouldn't they? Some of the 5,000 sailors facing redundancy from the Royal Navy are being targeted by recruiters from the Australian navy offering a fast track to citizenship. They are even offering the reverse of the Queen's shilling waiting, at the end of the gang-plank, as the sailors disembark from their British vessels.

Emigration is a well-considered option for soldiers, sailors and airmen when they reach the early retirement age common in the British Services. Over the years, there has been significant traffic to the kith-and-kin homelands that once were British colonies.

Those made redundant will be no different. Indeed, the need for change will be augmented by a sense of breached faith. And many, we suspect, will be prepared to make the journey. Australia has undertaken not to poach people essential to maintaining Britain's defence capabilities. But Special Forces officers, fighter pilots and submariners are among those they hope to entice with a three-month progress to citizenship rather than the usual two years. Redundancy is a blunt instrument; all too often those who go are those the organisation can least afford to lose.