Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester MP continues to refuse to recognise the valuable service of the Australian Army’s troops deployed as Rifle Company Butterworth, during Malaysia’s Counter Insurgency War (1969 -1989) (aka the Second Malaysian Emergency), to protect the RAAF units (aircraft, personnel including families and facilities) at Air Base Butterworth (ABB) in Malaysia.
ABB was owned by the Malaysian Government and used by the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) as an operational base for offensive operations (both air and ground) against the communist insurgents in Northern Malaysia. ABB was a potential target for the insurgents.
RAAF and Australian Army military services were deployed in accordance with Australia’s international treaty obligations embodied in the Five Power Defence Agreement (FPDA):
1. The RAAF, to provide air defence against communism’s expansion in South East Asia by its presence at ABB and operation of the Integrated Air Defence System.
2. The Army, to protect the RAAF against the communist insurgent threat, achieved with the deployment of a combat infantry rifle company initially from Singapore-based troops until 30 Sep 73 and then by a three-monthly rotation from Australian-based battalions, totalling about 9,000 troops. The RCB’s presence provided a deterrent and a quick reaction force to an enemy attack.
The Australian Government has deceptively classified the RCB Service as peacetime.
Despite the discovery and presentation of evidence that exposes the deception from the Government’s own documents and reveals that the RCB’s service met the criteria for warlike classification, the Government refuses to accept the evidence and change this classification. It also steadfastly refuses to appoint an independent inquiry.
The Government’s denial of their service as warlike excludes our troop’s eligibility for certain repatriation benefits and other entitlements. This is morally unjust and reprehensible.
During the Counter Insurgency War the Australians’ deployment was successful, playing an important role in deterring any attack externally or internally against the ABB, thereby helping to stop the spread of communism into Malaysia. Additionally, the RCB’s presence allowed the MAF to use its air assets at ABB without restriction against the enemy, and released their ground combat troops for more direct operations against the insurgents.
We will persevere in our demand to the Government to appoint an independent of government judicial inquiry.