You will recall our last posting on our web and facebook sites
“GOOD NEWS – RCB Review Group to meet with Minister Darren Chester
The Minister has agreed to meet with the RCB RG in Canberra on the 26th and the 27th November 2018. The first meeting is with the Minister’s Defence Advisor and Defence Department staff and the second meeting with the Minister.
The RG in all its submission since 2006 has sought such a personal meeting without success: the government preferring to communicate in writing.
We thank the Minister and look forward to the meetings.”
That Moment of Truth – The Meetings
The first meeting with the Minister’s ministerial and defence staff advisors was a “Clayton’s meeting” – not genuine. WE WERE DUDDED!
We attended in good faith on the understanding that finally we would be engaging with the Ministers advisors and Defence Staff advisors in a meaningful discussion “to discuss the evidence put forward by the RCB RG” that challenges their reasons for refusing our warlike service claim.
The participants included out RCBRG team of Ray Fulcher, Stan Hannaford, Peter Kelly and Ted Chitham, the Minister’s ministerial advisors Louise Hooper and Melissa Inwood supported by Defence staff advisors LTCOL Allan Black and Mrs Jacqueline Cooper from Military Strategic Commitments Branch and Mr Derek Cox from Personnel Policy and Employment Conditions Branch. But as we soon discovered, the three Defence staff advisors, who did not sit at the meeting table, were observers only and would not participate in the discussions nor could we ask them any questions.
This was contrary to the whole purpose of the meeting. In the week before the meeting we had asked if there were any protocols associated with the meeting: none were advised. Had we known of their non-participation in advance we would have objected in advance to the Minister.
So after 12 years of requests for such a meeting with the advisory staff, one was finally agreed to by Minister Chester on 7th October 2018 only to find on 26th November 2018 that we were to be met with their silence and no co-operation. It reaffirmed both our lack of trust and belief of procedural unfairness by the Defence Department to our claim and begged these questions:
- Why did the Defence staff advisors not participate?
- What are the Defence staff advisors hiding?
- Who ordered the Defence staff advisors action?
The meeting continued with us presenting our facts to the two Ministerial staff while the three observers sat to a flank behind us and took notes.
In discussions, Louise Hooper then dropped the bombshell that Australia does not recognize that the Second Malaysian Emergency – a historical fact – ever took place. We had never heard this statement before. It would seem that this was to be another reason for trying to continue to present another reason for the Government determining a finding of non-warlike service.
At the second meeting with Minister Chester the following day it was expected that he would give us his decision. Unfortunately the meeting was cut short because of the call for the Minister to return to the House for a vote: he asked us to remain until his return.
During our time with him we told him of our disappointment with the Defence staff advisors non-participation at the previous day’s meeting. Ray Fulcher gave an excellent summary of our case.
In the ensuing Minister’s absence we discussed with his Ministerial staff the inadequacy of the Defence Department’s complaints process that does not allow the claimants to meet with the Department’s Officers for discussions nor any mediation or examination by an external and independent third party. The response was that it was not policy because of the potential for personal and passionate confrontations.
The Minister was unable to return to the meeting. On our departure and in the Parliament House car park we met Peta Credlin and introduced ourselves and briefly the RCB plight. She invited us to contact her.
A week after our return to Brisbane we sent an RCB Brief of the matter to the Minister and Ted Chitham wrote him a personal letter appealing to his decency in decision making and the need to act. We are still waiting for a response for continuation of the unfinished meeting or a decision.
It would seem that the Minister has frozen us out of any further discussion and does not intend to change his decision nor appoint an independent inquiry. Case closed?
If that is his and the Government’s continued belief then we, having exhausted the Defence Department’s internal complaints process, will now have to move to other avenues of external appeal, to other Government review agencies that provide checks and balances on the Department’s actions or to take legal action.
To the remaining relevant agencies we will disclose the documented facts supporting our claim with our evidence. This material reveals that a deception has occurred and been perpetuated by the actions of the relevant Ministers and their Department of Defence staff advisors and other agencies having denied, delayed, and distorted the truth of our claim by:
- misrepresentation and omission of vital facts that had they been considered would have proven the RCB’s claim;
- failing to observe proper process and denial of procedural fairness;
- prejudicial conduct in a number of specific recorded incidents;
- misleading the Parliament; and
- breaching the applicable Ministerial standards and APS values, codes of conduct and ethics;
that in total makes a compelling assertion of a cover-up.
This is a moral injustice that we will “fight” to correct.
If the Minister’s final decision is not to reverse the original decision nor appoint an independent third party examination of the matter then the RCBRG will be forced to go public to the Australian people through the national and social media and/or initiate legal action through the appropriate Court. We ask the Minister for his decision without further delay.
Engagement with MPs and Election Candidates
The Deception has been knowingly or unknowingly perpetuated further by MPs and Senators who have accepted the Defence Department’s rejection of our claim without question. We can prove that the reasons for rejection are false but we need to do this with a personal show and tell visit to our local MPs, particularly those in marginal seats, and Senators to set the record straight.
So we need you to STAND UP with us and visit your local MP and Federal Election candidates on the subject and ask them if they have read the actual reviews. Then engage them in a courteous manner with the facts and show them the endorsements from the Royal Australian Regiment Corporation, the Air Force Association and the Defence Force Welfare Association who have joined us in asking past Prime Ministers for an independent inquiry.
Seek your MP’s support and ask them to do as Ronald Regan says “Trust but verify” with due diligence of the evidence presented to them by the Minister and his defence department and the RCBRG’s rebuttal. From that diligence we believe the MP’s should ask Minister Chester to correct this moral injustice.
While we have strong support from RCB veterans we need greater involvement from those within the defence family and the Australian public who believe in the rightful recognition of military service and the protection of our service entitlements. If you are already a registered supporter then we encourage you to recruit your family and friends to join us. But if you’re not yet registered then we ask you to do it now. Sign Up Today Numbers are one of the few things that politicians take notice of especially at election time.
Take another step and join our “boots on the ground” support network of volunteers who are willing to meet and engage with their local Federal MP. Mark Matthews, our Action Group Leader, will be advising and guiding your activities. In preparation for planned meetings with your local MPs visit the Australian Parliament House web site to learn about them and their background. Just email Mark [email protected] with your local Federal MP’s name and your preferred contact details and he will contact you.
Thanks Team for all your support, suggestions and comments: they are greatly appreciated.
We remain resolute in our determination to pursue our claim if necessary beyond the Parliament.
Remember our three Ps – Persistence, Patience and Perseverance
RCB Service 1973, 1974/75, 1982
Date: 18 / 02 / 2019
|Robert Cross||Phill Wolfenden||Stan Hannaford||Gary Stone|
|Russell Linwood||Mike von Berg||Mike Dennis (decd)||Ross Eastgate|
|Ray Fulcher||Ken Marsh (RAAF)||Ted Chitham||Mark Matthews|