Joel Fitzgibbon resigns

It’s one thing to neglect to mention all his gifts, free tickets and accommodation given him by the Chinese and his brother but this is worse. The resignation comes after it was revealed ministerial staff in the defence portfolio instructed a general to attend meetings with his brother at which defence health contracting was discussed. The General and Doctor, Paul Alexander is the head of Defence Health. We had last served together in a Regiment in the West where we got into the habit of having a Guiness on any Friday afternoon we were in Barracks. I only saw him again at this last ANZAC Day reunion and learned of his appointment. And then this. He is a true professional and it worries me that Generals are being forced into compromising ‘conflict of interest’ scenarios by the current mob in power. One would think a Minister of the Crown would know that this type of meeting simply isn’t on but apparently not. I wont miss him and I’m sure the ADF wont either. And then this;
But then Major-General Paul Alexander, who is in charge of defence health services, told a parliamentary committee that staff members of Defence Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon and defence staff told him to attend the meetings attended by Mark Fitzgibbon. General Alexander said he was at a meeting with officials of US health insurer Humana on August 27 last year. Mark Fitzgibbon was at the meeting and appeared to “sponsor” Humana officials, General Alexander said.
Can we start asking questions about Snowdon’s part in the story after all, it appears his staff had input to demanding a General attend a meeting with another Minister’s brother. Don’t tell me Snowdon doesn’t know the brother and what company he represented in that meeting and he must be aware of Alexander’s appointment. Poor show all round.


  • This has got to be the softest minsterial resignation in history. We are becoming a nation totally obsessed with the unimportant and the what might happen rather than the what did happen.

    I suspect he hasn’t been terribly well served by his own office here but let’s face it these are the most trivial of “offences”. As an Opposition MP he takes a trip to China paid for by a life long friend. Isn’t that what we want our pollies to be doing – getting to grips with our biggest market. He goes to the rugby with his brother and pays the hotel room only to find out later that his brother in fact paid it without telling him – is he supposed to be a mind reader?. As a minister, a meeting involving his brother takes place in his office without his knowledge. Give me a break – there’s no evidence of any corruption, favours, govt contracts let improperly – just a heap of innuendo and a good knock about bloke (the sort we all want well represented in politics) is chucked out of a job he was, by all accounts, doing very well. How is Australia well served by this nonsense?

    This looks totally like a hatchet job by a military who is threatened by his reforms. I wonder who actually runs the country – the pollies, whatever we might think of them, they are our choice, or the military.

    Seems we’ve got a bloodless military coup happening by stealth. If you upset them they’ll find some little skeleton in your closet and beat you to death with it.

  • takes a trip to China paid for by a life long friend. Isn’t that what we want our pollies to be doing – getting to grips with our biggest market
    No, actually. What we want them to do is go on recognized government funded trips with a report submitted to the House on return. What he did was go on a jolly with his Dad

    he was, by all accounts, doing very well. No he wasn’t – as a new Defence Minister he set himself a hard row to hoe when he started by calling the Defence Chiefs liars. They are professional people educated, experienced and qualified in their appointment. He is a ‘nice knock around bloke’, possibly good with his constituents but a little out of depth at the big end of town.

    Sloppy attention to minor detail has repeatedly got him in trouble. Can’t blame the service chiefs for that.

  • Kev
    There’s got to be something rotten about the nature of the relationship between the Defence Minister (irrespective of political affiliation) and his department considering the recent history of people in the portfolio. It seems that no matter the merit or capacity of the individual they either kowtow to the defence chiefs or they get snowed.
    In other democracies (Israel being a good example) this position leads on to greater things.
    In this country it is the kiss of death.

  • I expect the Generals and Admirals to maintain capabilities despite ideological pressures from the their political masters. They are charged with defending the nation and advising the government of the day on how to do that. If the government chooses to ignore them or to denigrate them publicly as Fitzgibbon has done, or to involve them in ‘conflict of interest’ situations then angst must surely follow. The smart Defence Minister will listen for a while before taking command as any good leader should but to jump on day one and start laying down the law and policy based on no more experience than years as a party hack, good at running suburban meetings with an auto electrician’s qualification then you must expect the Generals etc to go into a defensive ‘harbour’.

    True, Defence needs constant review, the Generals have to be politically attuned and even sacked should they publicly deride the minister but all of this needs to be handled with a degree of maturity based on the knowledge that Defence is for ever while some politicians only have fifteen minutes of fame and power.

    Let’s see how Faulkner goes – I expect more conflict but I hope not.

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