Opinion: Further Comments on the Afghanistan Allegations

David Jamison adds more to his earlier comments . “My belief that the government has botched the Brereton report in a most spectacular fashion has been reinforced this week. The Government Ministry reshuffle has left the current Defence Minister in place. Her public reactions to the release of the Brereton report, rather than being measured or considered, are inflammatory and without any consideration for the soldiers or their families who are now caught up in more than a fight to clear their names, but a very public game of political hot potato.

Members of the ADF, Veterans and their families need reassurance that the allegations being faced by some members of the SAS Regiment will be professionally investigated and that they will receive the same level of access to and justice as they fight and place their lives on the line to defend. All Australians should expect that the individuals under investigation will not be prejudged by a system trying to shift blame to lower ranking members whilst protecting those further up the command chain. To be given a fair trial is a basic human right, a right which is presently being eroded by the lack of support and action from the institutions and individuals responsible for providing it.

It has been reported that show cause notices have been issued to 13 SAS Regiment members. To respond to such notices when more serious charges are potentially being considered places these soldiers in an invidious position. Information provided by these members in response to these notices may well be used later by prosecutors as evidence in future actions. However, to not respond would inevitably mean discharge and likely be portrayed as being a sign of guilt. This is a clear breach of the basic principles of Natural Justice that form the basis of our Justice System.

A public appeal is presently being made to assist with raising the funds required to provide the legal support the members need in order to obtain a fair and impartial trial – I find it abhorrent and Defence should be ashamed for its ongoing lack of support. Defence should show its support for its members with the appointment of a suitably qualified legal team with experience in international law and allegations of war crimes so that an effective legal defence can be put forward.  

The CDF and CA continue to demonise those in the gun by indoctrinating other ADF members including newly graduating officers on their “crimes”. All this before any actual finding of fact.

I’m troubled by the public show of double standards on display. I’m further troubled by the government’s continued mishandling of the matter.

If things continue along the current path, how can any ADF member have any confidence in the integrity of Defence as a whole?

A question to Australia’s leaders needs to be asked – are they aware of the far reaching implications of their undermining of the these members and its impact on the confidence held by not only Australian’s but other nations, in both past, present and future members of the Defence forces?

I can’t think of any better way to destroy the morale and effectiveness of the nation’s military personnel than the current actions by the Government and ADF!

Colonel D K Jamison AM (Retd)
President
Ringwood RSL Sub Branch

22 December 2020

Comments

  1. Bert Brand says

    There was a sign on the US president (Harry Truman I think) that said: “The buck stops here!” That was leadership and understanding of the role of a leader by a great man. AS an ex-member of the regiment I never saw a sign on any of my fellow senior NCO’s that said the buck stops here. I also notice there is almost no sign of investigative reporting by any of the media

  2. Lorna Meldrum says

    For goodness sake leave the men who were sent to Afghanistan alone
    They were under orders to do what had to be done .It was war ,people get killed .Back off .If you were not in that situation how can you judge them .

  3. Don Zerner says

    when is the CA and CDF going to do the job they are being highly paid to do, rather than feather their nest for their cushy future after their retirement? This seems to be the current trend with senior Defence officers these days, Don’t do anything that may jeopardize my future after retirement!!
    So sad

  4. Michael Hayman says

    I have extremely grave concerns, as all the evidence obtained in the Brereton Report, is information obtained under duress. (This could be anything to waive prosecution, to a threat of demotion.) We are all aware that the pay system at the bottom of the scale is less than favourable for a soldier with a wife and several children.
    None of this evidence is admissible in a Court of Law. That is why the Investigator has to start at the beginning and collect admissible evidence for a Court of Law This is not Justice, nor is it how our Justice is administered. The release of a redacted version of the report, is not Justice, nor is the comments by the PM, CDF and others shows lack of respect for Justice, as every page of the report is tainted, with unproven allegations by people attempting to avoid the bullet, as no bullet has been proven to exist. We have already heard of the level of this information being untrue, as the report is rebutted as being untrue. As the primary target has not even opened his mouth yet and the evidence has evaporated. All members have been convicted by whispers and allegations that fail to stand up to the light of day. What has it cost so far a Supreme Court Justice for (4) four years to justify his pay. With a documents that is not permitted to see the inside of a court room, as it is Hearsay, Lies and Innuendo. I am glad we have all these Generals who have nothing better to do with there time, but remember we also have the spare ones holding down positions in the Public Service.

  5. Russell Linwood says

    I agree with Colonel Jamison’s observations. This is a fundamental fail procedurally and one must as the question: WHY is this being handled in this manner by Government and, of even greater concern, by our fellow (and similarly trained) professional colleagues in the highest ranks? In the interests of the entire nation’s wellbeing as well as the present (and future) ADF’s all ranks, I hope this mess is sorted rapidly and never recurs.

  6. Michael Ryan says

    I think it’s discriminatory to find people guilty before any crimes have been proven in a court of law

  7. Robert John Benns says

    Toatally agree very poor support from those at the top, but as they all scamble for a political life what can we expect, no leadership Officers Army.

  8. Garry Heskett says

    Mr Jamison, I agree and disagree somewhat wrt your comments. In particular your comment “ This is a clear breach of the basic principles of Natural Justice that form the basis of our Justice System.“ It is after all an Administrative Law. Any Company or business albeit Government or Private Enterprise have a right to ask an employee to show just cause as to why they should not be suspended or sacked due to their alleged illegal actions that they have been notified of. It happens in law enforcement all the time, so why not in the ADF. It is procedural fairness to have a right of reply.

  9. John Deighton says

    Campbell has never been a liked individual within the ranks, thats because that’s how the man thinks, its all about me, me, me and covering his arse, probably so he can be a politician when he retires!

  10. Paul Prickett says

    Absolutely on the mark. Disgraceful behavior and appalling display of leadership from CA upwards.