Independent Tribunal to reconsider medallic recognition for Rifle Company Butterworth

The independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal will re-examine the issue of medallic recognition for Australians who served with Rifle Company Butterworth in Malaysia between 1970 and 1989.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said the Government had listened to the concerns raised by many veterans who had served on Rifle Company Butterworth deployments.

“The Tribunal will consider whether these Australian veterans should receive the Australian Active Service Medal for their deployment to Malaysia,” Minister Gee said

“The issue was looked at by the Tribunal more than a decade ago, and a view was taken at the time not to recognise their service as “warlike”.

“The New Zealand Government recently broadened eligibility for the New Zealand Operational Service Medal for veterans who served in Malaysia and Singapore between 1959 and 1974. Given this, and the concerns raised directly with me by the veteran community, it is timely that this issue is re-examined.

“The Tribunal is an independent statutory body specifically set up to consider honours and awards issues like this.

“I sincerely appreciate the many representations made to me and my office on this matter since I took on the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio last year.

“I also acknowledge that veterans who have served on Rifle Company Butterworth deployments have been fighting for this additional recognition for years, and I don’t want this to drag on. I expect the inquiry to be complete by the end of the year.

“This will be a public inquiry and I encourage all those with an interest to make a submission before 1 July 2022.” 

Australian Defence Force personnel have served continuously at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth in Malaysia since 1970, when Rifle Company Butterworth was deployed at a time of unrest in Malaysia, led by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). The MCP signed a peace treaty with the Government of Malaysia in 1989.

Information about the inquiry, and how to make a submission, can be found on the Tribunal’s website: https://defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au.