Senator Brian Burston (PHONP) presented Questions On Notice re RCB submissions to the Defence Minister, Sen, Marisse Payne on 15th December 2017. The answers from the Department of Defence were provided by Sen. Mathais Cormann (in the Minister’s absence) in the Senate in February 2018
There are ten questions and answers. Each day hereafter we will post one of those questions and the answer with our response to the answer.
Question 2 – Sen. Burston (PHONP)
Given the Minister expresses complete faith in the 2011 DHAAT findings and given that it has been pointed out that the same findings totally ignored all evidence after 1975, how can the Minister continue to believe the flawed findings or worse still, multiple errors failure and mis-information from the NOSB which is the prime source of expert advice on such matters as the RCB claim?
Answer 2. Sen. Cormann for Sen. Payne
The Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal (The Tribunal) is a statutory body that has been established under The Defence Act 1903. All enquiries by the Tribunal are undertaken undertaken in accordance with the general principles of procedural fairness. The inquiry into recognition of service with Rifle Company Butterworth received written submissions from 29 parties, heard oral evidence from five individuals and undertook its own research into the claims. There is no credible evidence to suggest that the findings of The tribunal “totally ignored all evidence after 1975”. On the contrary, the Tribunal’s report cites evidence from Wing Commander Joe Piers (retired) who was commander of the Ground Defence Element from 1979 to 1981.
RCB Review Group Response to the Answer
The Minister’s answer states there was ‘ no credible evidence to suggest that the ‘findings of the Tribunal totally ignored all evidence after 1975’.
This response beggars belief.
Even a cursory read of the 2011 DHAAT report shows that, under “Evidence” there is no consideration whatsoever of the huge amount of claimant evidence put before the Tribunal.
It only provides the most shallow pro-Defence bureaucratic argument of pre-1975 events seeking to negate the unanswered evidence put up by the RCB claimants which covers the entire period 1970-1989.
Of 59 paragraphs constituting the entire DHAAT report, only eight deal with evidence. The rest is padding designed to justify, in our opinion, a pre-determined position.
The Minister also states ” . the Tribunal’s report describes evidence from Wing Commander Joe Piers (Retd) .. “. It does not; it only lists his name in an Annex. Two unspecified “senior commanders” are mentioned in the procedural part of the report, but what evidence they gave (if any) is not stated. Nor can it be challenged. This is procedural unfairness to the extreme.