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 1 – Sen. Burston (PHONP)
Given the overwhelming primary and secondary evidence provided to all key stakeholders in the August 2017 submission to the Minister, much of which has been located through empirical research since the 2011 DHAAT enquiry, will the Minister explain the consultative process between his Office, Defence and the ADF recipients that led to his satisfaction that there is no new evidence?
Answer 1. Sen. Cormann for Sen. Payne
Since the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal (DHAAT) review Defence has responded to a number of claims for reclassification of Rifle Company Butterworth service bu undertaking extensive research of available records in Defence Archives, the Australian War Memorial, the National Archives of Australia, published works, information provided with submissions, and more recently information provided by Senator Burston. As advised by the then Minister for Defence Personnel, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP in his November 2017 letter to Senator Burston, this comprehensive process did not identify any new evidence which would warrant another enquiry.
RCB Review Group Response to the Answer
The Minster’s response is astounding for its untruthfulness. A steady stream of submissions, petition and direct appeals to the Prime Minister have each used hard evidence to rebut this often-repeated form answer. Each time, new reinforcing evidence has been added. It is impossible for the Defence advisors to the Minister to state that there is no new evidence; the entire database with some new evidence was supplied in August.
The reply also fails to answer the core question: clearly the Minister will not challenge his script writers, relying instead on their dishonest assertion. An independent inquiry is now necessary to force the exposure of this procedural farce.
Minister, can you explain why in all our submissions our request to meet with the appropriate Minister and their staff to discuss them and our evidence have been ignored? Not denied but ignored.
Will you let us discover the evidence upon which Defence based its original decision to deny RCB warlike service?
18 August 2017 was the date the primary and secondary evidence Database was supplied. It included proof/evidence only added to it in the preceding weeks. By definition, any Defence statement to the Minister that there was nothing new has to be a lie, unless of course Defence already held those documents, in which case they lied earlier when they said that there was no evidence of an enemy, or even a war, facts they were forced to accept in 2014.
Seeing that His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is the Patron of the RAAF Association, would it not be possible to ask if he is willing to give his support here. Seeing that the RAAF Association support us ??.
A couple of years ago in Dan Tehans office, he told me “You will never get anywhere with this in the future” in response to my own submission on this subject. At xmas time a few months ago, I asked Dan Tehan if he could keep an eye on how the Sen Burston issue is going and he assured me he would do his utmost to put our viewpoint forward.I now see this morning in Teds posting that Dan Tehan wrote a damming response letter in Nov 2017. Their hidden agenda must be that there is a lot more documentation about the deceit of the Australian public, ie, knowing of the presence of the CT’s and the danger it posed, and orchestrating the lie, that the troops were there for training.This orchestrated lie and the ongoing cover up would be a huge embarrassment to Governments and could have legal ramifications also. A very good reason to say “You will never get anywhere with this in the future”
The Governor General’s role is seen here http://www.gg.gov.au/governor-generals-role
In essence, the role is to protect the Constitution and to facilitate the work of the Commonwealth Parliament and Government. When exercising the executive power of the Commonwealth, in accordance with long established constitutional practice, the Governor-General acts on the advice of Ministers who are responsible to the Parliament. That advice is conveyed largely through the Federal Executive Council. The GG does not have the power to do as you suggest.
To your second matter IMO you are right in your assessment. In reality the Ministers (who frequently change) are beholden to the advice given to them by their Departments’ APS staff advisors. The Public Service Code of Conduct requires that “an APS employee must behave honestly and with integrity in connection with APS employment”. This imposes the responsibility of recommending and/or making decisions on the basis of detailed analysis of all the factors associated with the subject known to them at that time. If they don’t then the consequences of a recommendation to a Minister could be as a consequence a charge against that Minister of misleading the Parliament. Also for the staff advisor making that recommendation risks on challenge a potential breach of the PS code of conduct. One would expect that the decision makers and their staff would review their decision upon the revelation of new evidence from whatever source.
In the RCB case the decision was made to classify its service as peacetime. Subsequent discovery of primary and secondary evidence from FOI and detailed research of other national and international sources led to the RCB Review Group’s (RCBRG) request for a review of the original decision. In fact the discovery revealed a conspiracy of deception to portray the deployment falsely as peacetime garrison duty. An allegation that the Government has not responded to and in fact ignored it..
Why has the Government ignored all the RCBRG’s requests to meet with the Ministers’ Department staff to examine the total evidence?
Is this the stubborn resistance to new evidence that would by any reasonable independent analysis recommend the initial decision be rescinded and the service classification be warlike. A simple independent evaluation of all the evidence will show the Government position, as advised by its public servants, is untenable. We know it and the public servants know it. Hence the laborious refusals to even meet with the RCBRG to examine the evidence together.
A responsible government would order an independent inquiry rather than continue to rely on an untenable cover up that will eventually be exposed, one way or the other.
Minister, how about you seek a second independent analysis?
What we have here is a failure to communicate! Not one politician has ever stood up and stated, hang on how is it that we believe one Departments report, without having seen the documents to support their claim. Yet! we dismiss out of hand the documentary evidence and oral evidence supported by statements from Veterans who in most cases do not know one another, served in different Battalions and Companies from different eras and live all over this big country. Are we saying that they have all got together and colluded, fabricated and concocted their evidence to support their claims. Until this happens, Parliament/Gov have and will be able to rest on their moral laurels and talk about it with heads held high by stating to each other around the silver service dining setting in Parliament, well we have done everything we could, so lets move on.
Hello Mick, Doubt ‘Their heads held high’ more like Ostriches ‘Heads in the sand’