Veterans Affairs demoted to outer Ministry

No surprise there. Richard Marles will be flat out on Defence and far too busy to worry about veterans but it’s nice to know early in this government’s time that us veterans will get little attention. We know where we stand and it’s down the back of the room. Out of sight, out of mind

One disappointing matter in the ministry is that veterans’ affairs sits outside cabinet. Incoming defence minister Richard Marles’ explanation on ABC radio this morning wasn’t exactly persuasive.

“Veterans’ affairs largely has been a ministry which has been in the outer ministry, but of course it sits within a broader defence space. So there is definitely through me a voice that exists in that space in relation to the cabinet,” he said. 

Whatever Labor says, Mr Marles will be busy on other pressing defence matters, and there’s no substitute for having a dedicated minister sitting in the cabinet and advocating for veterans. The new government may discover this over the next term. 

Veterans’ affairs will have yet another new minister, continuing years of churn, while the new government brings more turnover for the science portfolio. One of the major contributions Labor can make in those areas is to maintain stability in its line-up of ministers.

Matthew Keogh is the new minister for Veterans Affairs And Defence Personnel. Matt, who served as shadow minister for defence industry, has been named as the minister for veterans’ affairs and the minister for defence personnel.

He seems positive in this speech he gave in 2018 on Veterans Affairs Legislation so let’s wait and see.


More here

We must stand by war heroes

An article by Geoff Hourn a former officer in the Special Air Service Regiment, former WA State vice president of the Returned and Services League and current president of Highgate RSL Sub Branch.


Winston Churchill and George Orwell have both been attributed with saying “people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us”.

Rudyard Kipling in 1890, in his poem Tommy, condemned people “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep”.

Both themes are truisms that still apply in 2018. We can only be highly civilised while other men and women are there to guard us. We can only be civilised when others do disagreeable things so that ordinary people, here and elsewhere, can sleep safely in their beds at night




They lined the ridge at sunset and in the waning light

The far-flung line of squadrons came on in headlong flight,

The desert land behind them — in front the fearful fight,

The Wells of old Beersheba must fall before the night …

With cold steel bayonets gleaming, in sodden seas of blood

They raced towards the stronghold, all in a crimson flood,

Such maddening surge of horses, such tumult and such roar

The Wells of old Beersheba had never seen before …

They stormed across the trenches and, so the stories say,

They drove the Moslem gunners as wild winds scatter spray.

No force or fire could turn them on that long maddening run,

The Wells of old Beersheba had fallen with the sun.

And those who came not homeward, their memory is grand —

The Wells of old Beersheba will guard their graves of sand

Edwin Gerard


From an article by Peter Craven in The Australian

Diggers not convinced Islam is peaceful

Cultural sensitivity training fails, as it should.
The vast majority of Australian Defence Force personnel believes the Muslim religion promotes ­violence and terrorism, despite “cultural sensitivity training” by the ADF to have its soldiers take the view that Islam is a religion of peace.
Good. I see they’re not swayed by the views of the politically correct brigade.
The bombshell new study sponsored by the army finds that such “anti-Muslim sentiments” are “probably quite widespread” among Australian frontline troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the military’s efforts to reverse this trend are counter-productive.
It might be a bombshell to some but those who inhabit the real world would wonder why on earth any one would be surprised that an Army that has been fighting Muslims for more than ten years would not think they are a religion of peace. All Muslim’s aren’t peaceful and Islam isn’t a religion of peace. The term Cultural Sensitivity Training is cop-out to the politically correct however Cultural Training by itself is fine. Prior to my sojourns to South East Asia I was lectured and read all I could about the Vietnamese culture  and whereas I accepted the Vietnamese civilians were sometimes peaceful I didn’t trust them. And no one suggested that communism was a peaceful ideology. The good Doctor’s final sentence is enlightening.
Dr Miller said more work should be done by the ADF to get a better understanding of the issue, but the problem was that “the open expression of anti-Muslim sentiment in the ADF can and has led to disciplinary charges and dismissal.”
So it’s an offence to be anti-enemy. Wow – we used to encourage it. Full article here Picture show Religion of Peace chaps winning hearts and minds

What’s sauce for the goose…..

It has always been the case that soldiers are expected to be apolitical and I have always agreed with that ruling. Until now.
MP for Canning Andrew Hastie has been booted out of the Army Reserves after he defied a Defence request to remove photos of him in military garb from election campaign material.   Australian Defence Force members, including reservists, are banned from taking part in political activities while in uniform. The ADF says its policy is designed to ensure the armed forces remain apolitical.
Here’s why.
More than 100 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, together with 50 Defence civilians, families, friends and allies of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community marched in the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. The contingent was led by the most senior enlisted members of the ADF: Warrant Officer for the Navy, Martin Holzberger; Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army, Dave Ashley; and Warrant Officer for the Air Force, Mark Pentreath who volunteered to lead their members, alongside Parade Commander, Air Commodore Tracy Smart.
They marched in uniform.   2015 Sydney Mardi Gras …on a parade that supports a certain ideology. 2015 Sydney Mardi Gras And I, for one, think that’s political. I would think that most Aussies would see no problem with Hastie emphasising his service giving rise to an expectation that he is well trained in leadership roles. Conversely I would think most would be simply embarrassed by their nations military parading at the Gay Mardi Gras. I am. I am tired of gender politics being forced on us.  I don’t care what your sexual proclivities are, just that you do your job. What’s sauce for the goose…

The long march home

During the big wars of the last century Australian soldiers killed in action were interred in war cemeteries overseas.  The cost of repatriating 100,000 plus killed in WW1 and WW2 would have been prohibitive so the government policy remained as interment overseas. The soldiers were buried with their mates close to where they fell. During the Vietnam War when soldiers started being killed this protocol was still in place and soldiers were interred in War Cemetrys in SEA, notably Terendak, Malaysia. In May 1968 everything changed. A National Serviceman, Private Noack, was killed and when his father was told he would be interred overseas he  demanded he be brought back home. The Government complied but over the course of the war 32 soldiers were interred at Terendak Malaysia and one, Warrant Officer Conway, the first Aussie killed in Vietnam, was interred at Kranji, Singapore.  Up until 1966 Next of Kin were told they would even have to pay 500 Pounds to have their sons repatriated. An uncaring and unfeeling attitude by a government having trouble catching up with the times. After this date all of our mates killed were repatriated.  As a Infantry Sgt in 7RAR in Holsworthy NSW I led many a Burial Party for diggers of our sister Battalion, 5RAR. Bring them Home became a movement started by Jim Bourke who, against all odds, managed to locate all our MIAs and bring them home.  Developing from that various RSLs including the Northern Territory branch and other veteran organizations started agitating for the repatriation of those guys buried at Terendak and Kranji. It has finally happened. One of those coming home is Private Norman George Allen, a member of my Battalion, 7RAR, who was Killed in Action on 10 November, 1967 Welcome home Norm. A full list of those coming home can be read here      

Anzac Day 2016

Albany, WA.  Gillett’s have been defending the country since the 1890s when my Grandfather and his brother enlisted in the Forts at Albany. The nation was worried about the Russians as they were snooping around the continent so they built a fort at Albany overlooking King George Sound. In 1791 Captain George Vancouver claimed the Southern Part of Western Australia for the British Crown.  As he explored the coastline, he discovered one of the world’s finest natural harbours and named it Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound. During the 19th century, the loss of this strategic port to any enemy was identified as a potential threat to the security not only of Western Australia, but the whole of Australia.  As a result all the Australian states agreed to to pay for the construction of a fort and the British Government would supply the guns.  The Fort was opened in 1893 and was the first federal defence of Australia. There you go, the states can agree on something! The Princess Royal Fortress has two gun batteries dug into the hillside of Mount Adelaide -Fort Princess Royal ( 2 x 6 inch guns) and Fort Plantagenet ( 1 x 6 inch gun) . From 1893 to 1956 the guns of maintained their role as a deterrent and never fired a shot in anger.  Pity! Both these guys served in the Boer War enlisting from Albany and both survived.  They went on to serve in WW1 and one of them, my Great Uncle, in WW2. When the Anzac fleet left King George Sound in 1914 on board were two other Great Uncles, neither of whom survived their war. Both stayed in France My father, his brothers and my Mother’s brothers served during WW2 and Dad often came to the port of Albany when his RAN ships were escorting convoys or mine sweeping. One of my maternal uncles stayed at the River Kwai. In the early 60s I left to see the world, through the sites of a gun, as the wits of the day would have us believe. But circumstances had it that I would eventually serve in South Vietnam during my 25 years service. A mob of cousins also served in SE Asia in the RAN and Army and one even served in the RAAF. ( don’t know what happened there ) All of which s a bit of a load to carry tomorrow when I participate in the Anzac Day commemorations at Albany.  Marching along Stirling Terrace with the ghosts of my fathers on my shoulders makes it all the more significant.  I’ll go to the RSL later and maybe have a beer or two and remember my mates left behind in SE Asia and pause to toast my Fathers and their service and their mates they left behind. There were a lot. Thanks to them, in part, and men and women like them, we are free of the menace of Germans and Japanese and left to develop into a free nation.  Other nations are glad they served as well – just talk to the French and Pacific Islanders about that. Because of their service, and many other reasons of course, Australia has developed into an amazing place to live. Thanks guys. I normally spend the day with my mates from 7RAR but for family reasons I’m in Albany, far away from the main stream commemorations.  To all of you – have a good day and don’t forget to toast the boys we left behind. RIP

Loose cannon Lambie

lambieJackie Lambie is attacking the Army for it’s alleged dealings with an SASR Trooper Evan Donaldson and gives General Morrison AOTY a serve and a warning. “I’m coning after you”, she says.  By now you would be aware that I’m not a fan of Morrison but he is at least educated and intelligent.  Lambie is neither and if she’s backing a case then there is a fair chance she has not done her homework and is simply doing it to attack the Army. She takes up the case of Trooper Donaldson
After becoming the victim of brutal sexual and other assaults, Evan was seriously injured during a secret training exercise run by the Defence Intelligence Organisation inside Australian territory, involving techniques outlawed under the international convention governing the use of torture. During the resistance to interrogation exercise, Evan was bashed, bound, bagged, blindfolded, stripped naked, placed in stress positions, deprived of sleep and food for 96 hours and during that time he was sexually assaulted and left bleeding—and we will not go into where
Bashed, bound, bagged, blindfolded, stripped naked, placed in stress positions, deprived of sleep and food for 96 hours. Yep. Code of Conduct course…standard treatment. In 1968 I was at posted to the Intelligence Centre when it was located at Woodside, SA and acted as staff on what were then called Code of Conduct courses.  NCOs and Officers were given a taste of what Communists would do if they captured them.  Students were bashed, bound, bagged, blindfolded, stripped naked, placed in stress positions, deprived of sleep and food (in my experience they were fed bead and water) for 96 hours (once again, in my experience 72 hours) Tough, but we were at war and war is tough.  There was no sexual assault and I wonder exactly what Evan experienced that would have him claim assault.  If you strip a man naked and put him in a 4 foot cubed cell (can’t lie down…can’t stand up)with rough gravel on the floor and regularly throw cold water over him (in winter, in Woodside) then in today’s society I guess that would be sexual assault.  It wasn’t then and isn’t now but people’s perceptions do change. If, on the other hand, he was actually sexually assaulted then people do need to be brought to trial. My point here is that Lambie is a loose cannon with some military experience.  Diggers are going to her with complaints because they know, being a loose cannon, she will fight for them without to much legal thought and absolutely no consideration of unintended circumstances.

A bit of background on Jacqui Lambie 

She is a senator, a Palmer puppet, mother of two illegitimate children, on a disability pension for ten years, a drug and alcohol abuser, has an abusive father who assaulted a policeman, has a son who has been up before the same magistrate a dozen times (brags his mum), suffered depression.

Lambie  achieved the rank of corporal while in the army but was charged and reduced in rank after assaulting a fellow soldier. During a field exercise July 1997 she suffered injuries that resulted in severe  back pain. One day away  from   her first operational deployment to  East Timor, in trying on a flak jacket  it was found that she couldn’t bear the weight of the jacket: goodbye East Timor: hello discharge on medical grounds, and claim  for a military disability allowance. The Department of Veterans Affairs deemed she was a malinger – and despite engaging a private observer  to record her performing various household duties (without her being aware?)  they eventually had to accept  her claim.
Bogan tough, not necessarily a bad thing but she definitely has an anti military sense about her and this would make her believe anything negative about the system. I’m still thinking Loose Cannon, but let’s see how it pans out.  

More on Morrison, AOTY

Remember the Jedi Council?

‘Friendly fire’: When soldiers survive war, but are massacred on the battleground of Army politics. An article by Robert Ovadia.

It begins;

“Hi Rob, bad news from my front again as I’m back in hospital.”

It was the beginning of a text message I’d received the night before. ‘Hospital’ is where this man had been a number of times since 2013, with mental health issues. This time, though, it’s a ‘hospital hospital’. “Cut through my wrist but I’m still here,” it continues. “I’m currently listening to a guy who thinks he is God. All good.” The ‘PTSD wing’ of a military hospital is a colourful place. He is a former high-ranking officer in the Australian Army.

Former army chief, Morrison, made a name for himself surfing a tidal wave of support for a brutally eloquent speech castigating men in the army who demean women.

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept,” he famously scowled through words written for him by someone else. It made him famous. He became an enigma, the enfant terrible of the Australian Defence Force. He spoke at a United Nations conference alongside Angelina Jolie. He became a champion of feminism, the darling of those who swooned at the narrative of the feminist general and now he is our Australian of the Year. Some republicans even suggest he would make an ideal president of Australia, one day.

Not a good recommendation for a man who is supposed to be leading an Army.

Brave military men left to fight in the dark. An article by Miranda Devind

ON the night of Australia Day, last Tuesday, a former lieutenant colonel we will call “Ken” sat in front of his TV and watched in despair as his old Chief of Army, David Morrison, was awarded the honour of Australian of the Year.

Ken drank too much that night and then he tried to kill himself. It was his second suicide attempt since Morrison stripped him of his command, destroyed his career, and publicly shamed him by incorrectly identifying him as a member of the so-called Jedi Council “sex ring”.
Loyalty is supposed to be a two-way street.

And then this appears in today’s The Australian

Former army chief David Mor­­rison is charging up to $15,000 for speaking engagements as Australian of the Year, up to three times more than his predecessor Rosie Batty asked for each appearance.

I’m actually offended by the fact that he is receiving vast sums of money simply because he made a speech denigrating the Army.

Time to go General.

I note in the pic above he is wearing a Stop Violence Against Women ribbon award.  I see your white ribbon general and raise you an Infantry Combat Badge. The ribbon is not a military award and should not be worn on Uniform.  The Generals in the Army I served in mostly had Active service medals and Bravery awards as would be expected of men charged with leading fighting soldiers.

This man sports a white ribbon.

I don’t think I’d fit in today’s military.

UPDATE:  Michael Smith notes the absence of an ICB as well

PS – Morrison calls himself a Veteran.   He joined the Army in 1979 and was commissioned into the RA Inf.   He must have worked very hard to avoid exposure to the ICB over those 36 years.   ICB, no, white ribbon apparently makes up for it.


Sgt Troy Simmonds on Afghanistan

Troy Simmonds joined the Australian Army in 1991 and completed one tour of Somalia, three tours of East Timor, two tours of Iraq and six tours of Afghanistan. Watch the video and give silent thanks that men like him are watching over us. It’s 30 minutes so if your busy now set time aside to watch later. The video is an AWM production and gives brief mention of Donaldson’s VC. Enjoy.
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