15 December 2010

Decision is Parker released

Late last month the Australian Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal issued a decision in Parker v. Chief of Air Force [2010] ADFDAT 2 (29 November 2010). The decision can be found here.

I have not had time to read it yet.

11 November 2010

Funding for projects honouring Aussie veterans

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, said 241 projects across Australia, which honour Australia’s servicemen and women, will benefit from a funding round announced last Friday, 5 November.

Mr Snowdon said Australian Government funding of $701,892 for Saluting Their Service grants would commemorate our wartime history and honour those who have served, and continue to serve, Australia in wars, conflicts and peace operations.

The list can be found here.

The announcement was made at Footscray City College in Melbourne which has previously been awarded Saluting Their Service grants for research projects involving students interviewing veterans about their experiences in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

“Saluting Their Service grants provide funding to help communities build and maintain memorials, capture the wartime history of their towns and preserve memorabilia for future generations,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Commemorative projects play a major role in encouraging Australians, young and old, to learn about our wartime heritage. Community and ex-service organisations can also apply for funding to support significant anniversaries of wartime events,” said Snowden.

This year marked some significant anniversaries for Australia including the 95th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign, 65th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific, 60 years since the start of the Korean War and 50 years since the end of the Malayan Emergency. Many communities planned ceremonies throughout the year marking these anniversaries and this funding will help to contribute to the cost of these events.

“Australian service has been a part of the history of every city and town across the country and, through these projects, we can help ensure the contribution of our servicemen and women is remembered and their sacrifice is not forgotten,” Mr Snowdon said.

[Disclaimer: The author of this post is Chairman of the RSL Keep 45 Alive Committee - an initiative sponsored by the Returned & Services League of Australia to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of WW2 also know as Victory in the Pacific Day - which received a grant.]

09 November 2010

Blog's on holiday

We're taking a brief holiday. Sean is on military assignment and both Nick and I are in the middle of exams (plus I'm working on HR 569 in the States - trying to get it through the lame duck Congress).

We'll be back to blogging the first week of January 2011. Have a nice holiday season!

31 October 2010

This week in Congress (1 November 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Congress is in recess until after the mid-term November election. The House returns on 15 November 2010 and the Senate will have pro forma sessions.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

30 October 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (1 November 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, Review of Government compensation payments, Victorian Parliament Legislative Council Committee Room, time to be determined.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, Human Rights Bill 2010, Victorian Parliament Legislative Council Committee Room, time to be determined.


High Court of Australia

High Court sits in Canberra on Tuesday, 2 November 2010. None of the cases involve issues relevant to this blog. To view the listings of hearings go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases this week that involve matters pertaining to this blog.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal next sits on 9 and 10 December 2010.


Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

25 October 2010

This week in Congress (25 October 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Congress is in recess until after the mid-term November election. The House returns on 15 November 2010 and the Senate will have pro forma sessions.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

23 October 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (25 Oct 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

There are no expected hearings in the Parliament this week relevant to the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

High Court sits in Canberra on 2 November 2010. None of the cases involve issues relevant to this blog. To view the listings of hearings go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases this week that involve matters pertaining to this blog.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal sits on 28 and 29 October 2010. [Note: I'm awaiting a reply from the Tribunal on what cases are listed for this week. Once I receive a reply I'll update this post.]


Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

20 October 2010

Watson decision now available

The Australian Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal has released the decision of Watson v Chief of Army [2010] AFDAT 3 which can be found here. The Tribunal quashed the conviction of absence without leave, engaging in insubordinate conduct and disobeying a lawful command on the grounds that the evidence was not admitted properly at trial. (Which the Government conceded on appeal.) The Tribunal directed that a verdict of not guilty be entered.

18 October 2010

Parliament begins debate today on war in Afghanistan

The Australian House of Representatives will begin debate today on the nine year war in Afghanistan. It is expected that debate will commence after question and answer time - approximately 1530 hours AEDT, 19 October 2010. To view the debate live go here.

17 October 2010

The Returned & Services League of Australia makes a submission on Military Court of Australia Bill 2010

Last week the Returned & Services League of Australia, or RSL, made this submission on the Military Court of Australia Bill 2010. (Disclaimer: I am a member of the RSL.) The submission points out numerous concerns in the current language of the bill.

One notable concern is:
that ‘charges of service offences are to be dealt with otherwise than on indictment', the legislation denies service members accused of serious service offences the right of trial by jury.This is at odds with the norms of contemporary Australian society which hold that servicemembers are citizens and should enjoy all the privileges and rights of citizens including having the right of trial by jury when accused of serious service offences.
The RSL argues the bill should be amended and redrafted to take into account the numerous issues it has raised.

[Note: I applaud the leadership of the RSL's new National President Rear Admiral Ken Doolan in ensuring the RSL has a voice in this important issue.]

This week in Congress (18 Oct 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Congress is in recess until after the mid-term November election. The House returns on 15 November 2010 and the Senate will have pro forma sessions.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

16 October 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (18 Oct 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

**The House of Representatives to begin debate on the nine year war in Afghanistan this week. Debate is expected to begin on Tuesday, 19 October 2010 at 1530 hours AEDT and go through the week. On Tuesday the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader are expected to debate followed by other Members of Parliament during the week.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Senate Standing Legislation Committee: Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade, Defence Estimates, 0900 - 2300 hours, HMS 10, to view the live webcast go here.

High Court of Australia

High Court sits in Perth on 18 October 2010, and then in Canberra on 2 November 2010. None of the cases involve issues relevant to this blog. To view the listings of Perth hearings go here and Canberra hearings go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Repatriation Commission v. Malady [2010] FCA 798 (30 July 2010). Commission appeals a lower tribunal decision. The issue is whether a reasonable hypothesis connecting disability with eligible war service entitles veteran to a disability pension under Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Rana v Repatriation Commission [2010] FCA 280 (26 March 2010). Case involves the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 and whether the veteran is entitled to a pension under IV of the Act.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently is currently in recess and next sits on 28 and 29 October 2010.


Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

12 October 2010

Federal judge issues injunction on Clinton-era Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy

Today a U.S. District Court Judge in the federal central district of California, after a trial, issued this order enjoining the U.S. military from enforcing the Clinton-era Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Log Cabin Republicans, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC brought the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DADT.

10 October 2010

This week in Congress (11 Oct 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Congress is in recess until after the mid-term November election. The House returns on 15 November 2010 and the Senate will have pro forma sessions.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

09 October 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (11 Oct 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

The House next sits on 18 October 2010, and the Senate next sits on 25 October 2010. There are no committee meetings in either houses pending this week which relate to the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

High Court next sits in Perth on 18 October 2010, and then in Canberra on 2 November 2010. None of the cases involve issues relevant to this blog. To view the listings of Perth hearings go here and Canberra hearings go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No hearings this week by the Full Court involving subject matters of this blog are scheduled this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently is currently in recess and next sits on 28 and 29 October 2010.


Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

04 October 2010

This week in Congress (4 Oct 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Congress is in recess until after the mid-term November election. The House returns on 15 November 2010 and the Senate will have pro forma sessions.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

03 October 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (4 Oct 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is sitting this week but there are no hearings or debates scheduled related to the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

High Court next sits in Perth on 18 October 2010, and then in Canberra on 2 November 2010. None of the cases involve issues relevant to this blog. To view the listings of Perth hearings go here and Canberra hearings go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Kowalski v. Repatriation Commission [2010] FCA 409, SAD55/2010

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently is currently in recess and next sits on 28 and 29 October 2010.


Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

27 September 2010

This week in Congress (27 Sept 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health, hearing on H.R. 3843, H.R. 4041, H.R. 5428, H.R. 5516, H.R. 5543, H.R. 5641, H.R. 5669, H.R. 6123, H.R. 6127 and draft legislation, 1000 hours, room 334, Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, hearing on Fighting Superbugs: DOD's Response to Multidrug-Resistant Infections in Military Treatment Facilities, 1330 hours, room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, hearing The True Cost of the War, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building, To view the live webcast go here.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

26 September 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (27 Sept 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

The new Parliament sits on Tuesday, 28 September 2010. Presently there are no Committee hearings scheduled on the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

High Court next sits in Perth on 18 October 2010, and then in Canberra on 2 November 2010. None of the cases involve issues relevant to this blog. To view the listings of Perth hearings go here and Canberra hearings go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

There are no cases being heard by the full court this week that involve subject matter of this blog.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently is currently in recess and next sits on 28 and 29 October 2010.


Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

25 September 2010

HMAS Success inquiry to continue Monday

The Australian Defence Force has issued this media advisory which indicates that the Commission of Inquiry into diversity and equity issues an board the HMAS Success will continue on Monday, 27 September, 2010 at 0930 hours, Defence Plaza, Sydney.

19 September 2010

Second interim report on HMAS Success now available

A second interim report on the HMAS Success (a French Durance Class tanker) sex betting allegations is now available. The report dated 20 August 2010, is available here.

I have previously discussed the inquiry here, here and here.

A webpage has been setup by a Senate committee titled "Inquiry into an equity and diversity health check in the Royal Australian Navy - HMAS Success" which can be found here. The terms of reference for the Senate inquiry can be found here.

Acting Chief of RAN sets record straight: Dispels allegations by News LTD media on sailor's death

Acting Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas, has set the record straight over allegations by News Ltd media on the death of Able Seaman Cook Jay Wilkie aboard HMAS Launceston (an Armidale Class patrol boat) .

On 16 September 2010, the Daily Telegraph ran an article titled "Toxic gas inquiry on dead sailor."

But RADM Thomas says "there is no evidence that gas of any nature contributed to the death of Able Seaman Jay Wilkie."

To read RADM Thomas' statement go here.

18 September 2010

U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs reviewed Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance & Veterans' Group Life Insurance programs

The Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, has reviewed the account administered by Prudential that includes Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) programs to ensure beneficiaries are protected, being treated fairly, and accorded the utmost care and respect. VA wants to ensure that benefits are delivered in a transparent way that clearly outlines all available options.

Since 1965, VA has delivered life insurance benefits to survivors of our Nation’s Servicemembers and Veterans.

“The most important thing we can do is ensure that beneficiaries have options that are clear, competitive, and come at no personal cost during a time of emotional stress,” said Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John R. Gingrich. “Providing clear and concise options for the beneficiary is a top priority.”

The department, in a press release, stated that it will provide better clarity of payment options by using new documents that ask the beneficiary to choose one payment option, including a lump sum check, or a lump sum Alliance Account (retained asset account) that allows beneficiaries the option to immediately write a check for the entire payment or any lesser amount. VA will also continue to offer the option for payment in 36 monthly installments.

VA worked with beneficiaries, regulators, and subject matter experts to determine appropriate improvements to provide beneficiaries all benefits due under current life insurance programs to include Alliance Accounts in a secure and timely manner.

“Prudential has agreed to implement these adjustments, and the department will continue to carefully monitor this program to ensure that Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ beneficiaries are well-protected,” said Gingrich.

Information on the SGLI/VGLI programs is available on the VA's website located here.

Release of inquiry officer's report into death of Aussie Sgt Brett Till

Late last week the Australian Defence Force released the inquiry officer's report into the death of Australian Army Sergeant Brett Till which occurred on 19 March 2009. To view the transcript of the press conference of Lieutenant General David Hurley, Vice Chief of the ADF and the report go here.

This week in Congress (20 Sept 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Senate Armed Services Committee, hearing on General James F. Amos, USMC, for reappointment to the grade of general and to be Commandant of the Marine Corps,
0930 hours, room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Joint House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Hearing to Receive Legislative Presentation of the American Legion, 1000 hours, room 345 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Hearing: VA Disability Compensation: Presumptive Disability Decision-Making, 0930 hours, room 50, Senate Dirksen Office Building.

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health, Veterans Health Administration Contracting and Procurement Practices, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building, To view the live webcast go here.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (20 Sept 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is still in recess.

High Court of Australia

High Court sits on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 in Canberra and will be hearing seven cases. None of the cases involve issues relevant to this blog. To view the listings for Tuesday go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

There are no cases being heard by the full court this week that involve subject matter of this blog.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently is currently in recess and next sits on 28 and 29 October 2010.


Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

05 September 2010

Time running out to claim bonus payment for stop-loss

The Washington Post is running this interesting article on bonus back pay for U.S. servicemembers subjected to past stop-loss orders. Any servicemember who was subjected to a stop-loss from 11 September 2001 to 30 September 2009 can apply. Payment is $500 per each month served in a stop-loss status. The deadline is 21 October 2010. Those interested in applying can visit the U.S. Department of Defense website here.

04 August 2010

Small world: CJ Roberts in Australia

Little did I know when I woke up this morning I would be meeting Chief Justice Roberts at Bondi Beach - that is precisely what occurred this afternoon. I was on may way to North Bondi RSL when I came across the CJ. Apparently the CJ is down under on holiday with his family. We had a short conversation. He is well aware of HR 569/S 357 and the inequity concerning military servicemembers' access to the Supreme Court.

What a small world we live in.

23 July 2010

On holiday until September

The blog is on holiday until September 2010. Sean is on Army Reserve training; Nick is overseas on holiday and I'm busy with HR 569 in the States and with the Keep 45 Alive for the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day in Australia.

We will return to posting the first week of September 2010.

19 July 2010

This week in Congress (19 July 2010) . . .

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Monday, 19 July 2010

House Veterans Affairs Committee, hearing on Serving Virginia's Rural Veterans
, 0900 hours, Bedford County Board of Supervisors Meeting Room, County Administration Bldg., 122 East main Street, Bedford, Virginia. To view a live webcast of the hearing go here.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

House Veterans Affairs Committee, Roundtable on Innovative Treatments for TBI and PTSD, 1000 hours, Room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

House Veterans Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health, Healing the Physical Injuries of War, 1000 hours, 334 Cannon House Office Building.
To view the live webcast of the hearing go here.
___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

18 July 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (19 July 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

No matters are pending in Parliament. Following the calling of a Federal Election, the Senate will be prorogued and the House of Representatives dissolved at 1659 hours, Monday, 19 July 2010.

High Court of Australia

The High Court is in recess and next sits 27 July 2010 in Canberra.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases are being heard this week which involved the subject matter of this blog.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal next sits on 19 August 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

For a complete Daily List of cases currently being heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in the various States and Territories go here.

17 July 2010

Serious flaws noted in GOP dissenting views on HR 569

Washington, DC attorney Dwight Sullivan has noted on CAAFlog, here and here, that there are serious flaws in the Republican dissenting views contained in the Report on HR 569 (Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2010) The flaws concern arguments for a different inequity concerning Uniform Code of Military Justice article 66 [10 USC 866] appellate review and not Supreme Court certiorari review. Mr. Sullivan criticizes Reps Gohmert and Rooney - both former Army JAGs - for signing off on the dissent given the flaws.

Perhaps Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Florida) needs to check his facts before he speaks out or puts his name to a dissent. Earlier this year Rep. Rooney falsely stated, during a House Judiciary Committee markup, that I had renounced my U.S. citizenship. I'm still a United States citizen and never renounced my American citizenship. The same day he stated it, I asked Rep Rooney for an apology and never got one.

U.S. Army suicide rate increasing

Today's Washington Post has an article about the increase in U.S. Army suicide rates here.

11 July 2010

This week in Congress (12 July 2010) . . .

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

House Veterans Affairs Committee, hearing on Veterans at Risk: The Consequences of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Non-Compliance
, 1300 hours, U.S. Courthouse, 111 South 10th Street, St. Louis Missouri. To view a live webcast of the hearing go here.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Review of Veterans' Claims Processing: Are current efforts working?, 0930 hours, 418 Senate Russell Building.

House Veterans Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, hearing on Examining the Progress of Suicide Prevention Outreach Efforts of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast of the hearing go here.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

House Veterans Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Markup of H.R. 929, H.R. 3685, H.R. 4359, H.R. 4469, H.R. 4664, H.R. 4765, H.R. 5360 and H.R. 5484, 1300 hours, 334 Cannon House Office Building.
To view the live webcast of the hearing go here.
___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (12 July 2010)

[YET ANOTHER SLOW WINTER WEEK] The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is in its Winter recess until 24 August 2010.

High Court of Australia

The High Court is in recess and next sits 27 July 2010 in Canberra.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Kowalski v. Repatriation Commission [2010] FCA 409, SAD55/2010, Settlement of Index

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal next sits on 19 August 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

For a complete Daily List of cases currently being heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in the various States and Territories go here.

10 July 2010

Defence response to The Australian article "Soldiers’ despair confronts Defence"

Today The Australian published this article entitled "Soldiers' despair confronts Defence" . By this afternoon the Australian Department of Defence, or DoD, acknowledged the content of the Preliminary Study for the Military Health Outcomes Program (MilHOP) Survey and indicated that it has already investigated and/or resolved many of the issues raised by the respondents over the 19 year period considered by the Preliminary Study.

In a press release DoD states that one of its highest priorities is the health and well-being of the men and women who serve in the Australian Defence Force ("ADF").

DoD claims the individual responses highlighted in the article are the participants’ personal perceptions and do not necessarily reflect the full context of the issues raised. According to DoD the article includes a number of errors as follows:
  • No Australian soldier has died as a result of an alleged drug overdose in Afghanistan. An Australian soldier, Private D, remains in a serious condition and is being closely monitored, however his clinical condition has improved. Private D is being supported by his family and the ADF at home in Australia.
  • There is no evidence to support the suggestion that addiction to prescription drugs and an underground trade in illicit substances and sex is widespread. As a result of concerns raised some time ago, a comprehensive fatigue management program is in place to support Royal Australian Air Force aircrew deployed on operations.
  • This article gives the impression that the surveys were altered because of the responses provided in the Preliminary Study and focus groups. This is not the case. The specific intent of the Preliminary Study and focus groups was to use the responses provided to assist design of the most useful questions to ask in the MilHOP survey in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of psychological health issues in the ADF.
  • The article suggests that the Dutch assistance to provide emergency evacuations only includes wounded personnel. The ADF and our coalition partners treat the recovery of both wounded and deceased personnel as critically important. However, in all circumstances the tactical situation will determine how to best achieve evacuation.

08 July 2010

Womens veterans forum opened in United States

Today the Department of Veterans Affairs opened registration on for a women veterans forum that will address the quality of VA health care, the provision of benefits for women, and ways for VA to continue improving access to the care and benefits for women veterans.

“The VA forum will bring advocates for women veterans together to learn about VA services and to share valuable information with each other,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The forum will also give veterans’ advocates the tools they need to help build women Veterans networks and communities throughout VA.”

Shinseki and VA department heads will attend the forum on 28 July at the Women’s Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Because of anticipated demand, available seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and confirmed registrants will be notified by email once registration is filled. Registration—through the Center for Women Veterans by e-mail at 00W@va.gov -- closes when either all seats are filled or no later than July 16.

The Forum will run from 0700 to 1500 hours (U.S. Eastern Time) with morning presentations and an afternoon information marketplace in which participants are invited to move through the gallery and gather resources and materials provided by VA program offices, Veterans Service Organizations and advocacy organizations. There will also be an afternoon screening of the updated “Lioness” documentary film.

VA’s women Veterans health conference held earlier in the month will help inform the Forum with the most up-to-date information available from VA’s health care system.

Presentations from the event will be made available online. Feedback about this event and announcements on future events will be available to Forum participants. For more information contact the Center for Women Veterans at 202 461-6193 or by e-mail at 00W@va.gov.

There are about 1.8 million women Veterans among the nation’s total of 23 million living veterans. VA estimates women veterans will comprise 10.5 percent of the veteran population by 2020.

AAT FOIA decision released (Vasta and Anor and Civil Aviation Authority)

Vasta and Anor and Civil Aviation Safety Authority
[2010] AATA 499; 6/7/2010; Senior Member PW Taylor SC

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - exemptions - documents relating to aircraft maintenance and safety claimed to be exempt under sections 40, 43 and 45 of the FOI Act - whether disclosure could prejudice future supply of information to agency - whether disclosure of documents could reasonably be expected to unreasonably affect an organisation's lawful business, commercial or financial affairs - distinction between mandatory and voluntary disclosure of information to agency - whether certain reports can be characterised as interim reports - scope of requests and adequacy of identification of documents responsive to request - costs - in respect to the first application the decision under review is set aside and in respect to the second application the decision under review is varied and remitted

Held: In the Vasta application (2008/0261): Set aside the decision under review. Substitute a decision that the documents listed in the accompanying "Schedule: Exempt Documents Claim - Vasta Request" are not exempt documents.

In the McKinnon application (2008/2385): the decision under review is varied as follows:

(a) the documents listed in the accompanying "Schedule: Exempt Documents Claim - McKinnon Request" are not exempt documents where the words "NOT EXEMPT" appear in the Decision column in the Schedule (subject to deletion of the identifying information referred to in paragraph 127);

(b) the McKinnon application be remitted pursuant to s 42D of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 to CASA to identify any additional responsive documents, in the light of the matters contained in paragraphs 132 to 134 of the Reasons for Decision.

The proceedings are adjourned for the purpose of considering further submissions CASA wishes to make on the question of any recommendation about costs. If CASA does not wish to address any further submission, in accordance with FOI Act s 66, recommend to the Attorney General that costs of each Applicant's be paid by the Commonwealth.

06 July 2010

How should Australia mark the ANZAC Centenary?

That's the question the Australian Government has asked today.

Australians are being called on to share their ideas on how the Anzac Centenary is commemorated in the lead-up to 2015, said Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Alan Griffin today.

Griffin said between 2014 and 2018 marks 100 years since the First World War.
“The Anzac Centenary provides an opportunity to remember those who have fought and served in all the wars of the last hundred years, and those who stayed behind,” he said.

“On Anzac Day the Australian Government announced a National Commission on the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary involving former Prime Ministers the Right Honourable Malcolm Fraser PC, AC, CH and the Honourable Bob Hawke AC, and the National President of the RSL Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO (Retd).

“The role of the National Commission is to listen to the Australian community about how we as a nation should honour and remember 100 years of service.

“All Australians – every school, community and ex-service organisation – are asked to think about how we, as a nation, should commemorate the Anzac Centenary and put ideas and suggestions forward to the National Commission,” Griffin said.

Addressing the first meeting of the National Commission in Sydney today Mr Griffin welcomed three new members of the Commission; editorial cartoonist and journalist Warren Brown, former ADF serving member and peacekeeper Major Matina Jewell (Retd) and veterans advocate and nurse Kylie Russell.

The Commission – these six Australians – have a vital role to play in seeking Australia’s ideas on how to mark this historic milestone and will report to government on the way forward by early next year.

“Although there are no living links to the First World War – the legacy has continued through to the men and women who have served in the Australian forces since. During the Anzac Centenary we will honour this legacy,” he said.

For more information about how to make a submission visit www.anzaccentenary.gov.au. Submissions close on 17 September 2010.

05 July 2010

This week in Congress (5 July 2010) . . .

[SLOW WEEK] The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Monday, 5 July 2010
Independence Day Holiday

The Senate is in recess until Monday, 12 July 2010.

The House is in recess until Tuesday, 13 July 2010.
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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

04 July 2010

Happy 234th B-Day America! (Still a work in progress)

Whilst it's the 5th of July at home here in Sydney, it's the 4th of July in my other home country of the United States of America. Thus it's Independence Day. America turns 234 today.

I'm a regular reader of the OB Rag Blog (as I'm a former resident of the San Diego seaboard community of Ocean Beach). Today I was reminiscing of paddling out on my surf board near the OB pier to watch 4th of July fireworks and then getting back in quickly to the beach to partake in the annual marshmallow fight. In response to a post today entitled "Thoughts About the Fourth" I wrote the following:
Happy Independence Day from down under. As I read the above post from my home in Sydney (Australia) I cannot help but think of a serious inequity in law since the birth of the United States.

The brave young American men and women who serve in military uniform around the globe do not enjoy equal access to the Supreme Court of the United States (”SCOTUS”) should they be convicted by courts-martial. The phrase “Equal Justice Under the Law” engraved into SCOTUS’ building does not apply to our military personnel.

Most citizens are unaware that since 1789 – the year SCOTUS was established – a little known inequity in federal law which prevents many court-martialed servicemembers from ever accessing the high court. To those uniform citizens the Supreme Court simply does not exist. But believe it or not, illegal aliens and enemy combatants enjoy SCOTUS access. I cannot reconcile how enemies and illegal aliens can freely petition our highest court in the land while the young men and women who serve our country risking their lives to protect and defend us are shut out.

The Supreme Court may review only those cases out of the Court of Appeals in which one of the following circumstances applies: (1) The defendant could receive the death penalty. (2) The case was certified to the Court of Appeals by the judge advocate general for review. (3) The appeals court granted the accused’s petition for review. (4) Or the appeals court otherwise granted relief to the accused.

The above looks like a robust review – but it’s not. The death penalty is not on the table in most cases. The judge advocate general does not certify many cases for review—and when he does, this almost always benefits the government, not the servicemember. The Court of Appeals only rarely otherwise grants relief. Most of the time, a convicted servicemember can hope to reach the high court only if he can first show good cause to persuade the Court of Appeals to grant his petition for review. The Court of Appeals declines to hear about 90 percent of cases, so about 90 percent of court-martialed servicemembers are completely sealed off from the Supreme Court. For those servicemembers, the high court simply does not exist.

Conversely, if that servicemember does manage to get his case before the Court of Appeals and then prevails, the government is permitted to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. And therein lies the inequity.

In 2004 when I lived in OB (I moved to Sydney in 2007 – I’m both an American and Australian) I brought the inequity to the attention of Rep. Susan Davis and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Both have introduced legislation to correct the inequity. In the current (111th) Congress, the Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2009, H.R. 569 and the Equal Justice for United States Personnel Military Personnel Act of 2009, S. 357 have been introduced.

The legislation has broad support of (1) Fleet Reserve Association; (2) Military Officers Association of America; (3) National Institute of Military Justice; (4) Jewish War Veterans of the United States; (5) American Bar Association; (6) National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; (7) ACLU and many others. Three former chief judges of the top military court – Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (formerly known as the Court of Military Appeals) support the legislation. Two of those judges were Reagan appointees.

Our sister common law countries – including my other home country of Australia – afford their military personnel equal access to their highest courts.

In the last Congress (110th) a similar bill, Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2007 H.R. 3174, was passed by 2/3 voice vote in the House but was held up in the Senate because the Bush administration opposed it. In this Congress (111th Congress) H.R. 569 received a hearing in Committee and was favorably reported out to the House. (You can read the Congressional hearing transcript here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-111hhrg11150222/pdf/CHRG-111hhrg11150222.pdf ) H.R. 569 still awaits action with less than 6 months left in this Congress.

I agree with NYT’s Frank Rich that America is a work in progress. Part of that progress is recognizing injustices and inequities; and then fixing them – making them right. While we sit on the beach this 4th of July, eat hot dogs and hamburgers, drink beer (not on the beach anymore), watch fireworks and have marshmallow fights remember that not every American citizen has the same rights you have. Those American military servicemembers serving in remote places around the world to protect and defend you are treated like second class citizens when it comes to accessing our nation’s highest court.

Reserve Forces Day; Employeers to witness Reservists in action


Yesterday I attended the Australian Reserve Forces Day National Parade in Sydney at the Domain. Governor General Quentin Bryce AC (pictured right) inspected the parade.

On the heals of Reserve Forces Day, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support, Dr Mike Kelly AM MP announced that 22 employers of Defence Reservists will travel to Solomon Islands today (5 July 2010) as part of Exercise Boss Lift - the Defence program designed to encourage employer support for the Reserves.

Dr Kelly encouraged the Defence Reservists in the Solomon Islands to take advantage of the opportunity to show their bosses the skills they develop while on deployment and how they can be utilised in the civilian workplace.

“This is a unique opportunity for employers and aims to highlight the skills Reservists gain from being in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and how those skills can benefit civilian employers,” Dr Kelly said.

“Boss Lift and other employer engagement activities like Exercise Executive Stretch, also help employers understand their Reservist’s important contribution to Defence capability.”

Employers participating in the four-day Boss Lift program will visit soldiers from the New South Wales-based 5th Brigade, who are currently on a four-month deployment to the Solomon Islands.

While in Honiara and surrounds, the employers will have the opportunity to see their Reservists on Operation ANODE, the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.

03 July 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (5 July 2010)

[ANOTHER SLOW WEEK] The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is in its Winter recess until 24 August 2010.

High Court of Australia

The High Court is in recess and next sits 27 July 2010 in Canberra.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases involving subject matters of this blog will be heard by the Full Court this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

01 July 2010

Coalition wants to increase payments to Aussie veterans

The Coalition recently announced it will introduce new indexation arrangements for Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB) members as part of its commitment to supporting Australia’s veterans and ex-service personnel.

Under a Coalition government, from 1 July 2011 those DFRDB members aged 55 years or older will have their military superannuation pensions indexed to the greater of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI).

The Coalition received submissions from the Returned Services League, or RSL, National President, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Rtd) on military superannuation together with the long-standing efforts of the Defence Force Welfare Association, or DFWA, Colonel David Jamison (Rtd), National President of the DFWA. As a result, the changes are being made as part of the Coalition’s recognition of the unique nature of military service.

Widows of DFRDB superannuants will also benefit from the announced changes.

This change would bring into line the indexation of DFRDB superannuation with the aged pension. Currently DFRDB superannuation is indexed according to the CPI.

If the indexation rate had increased in line with the aged pension, military superannuants would have received an extra $28.40 per fortnight to their pension (if they received the full pension rate) in March this year.

I have previously discussed the issue of indexation here.

[Disclaimer: I am a member of the RSL.]

30 June 2010

Defence to increase payment for employers supporting Reservists

Tomorrow the weekly rate for Australian Employer Support Payments, or ESP, will rise on 1 July 2010 from $1183.10 to $1,243.10. ESPs are made for every week full-time employee Reservists are away from their civilian jobs, once the qualifying period of two weeks and other criteria are satisfied.

“The Scheme was introduced to provide financial assistance to employers and self-employed Reservists,” said Dr Mike Kelly AM, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.

For Reservists in part-time employment, a pro-rata amount of the applicable Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings, or AWOTE, is calculated based on their weekly working hours. ESP support is also available to self-employed Reservists whose business provides their main source of income.

To qualify for ESP payments an employer’s Reservist employees must perform Defence service for five or more consecutive days after completing the qualifying period.

Employers can download claim forms at www.defence.gov.au/reserves

28 June 2010

This week in Congress (28 June 2010) . . .

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to receive testimony on Beyond the Defence Language Tranformation Roadmap: Bearing the Burden for Today's Educational Shortcomings, 1330 hours, 2212 Rayburn House Office Building.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Evaluating the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of General Council, 1000 hours, room 334, Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

House Armed Services Committee, to receive testmony from Army Secretary John McHugh into investigation of Arlington National Cemetary, 1030 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.


Thursday, 1 July 2010

House Armed Services Committee, Legislative Hearing on HR 3407, HR 3787, HR 4541, HR 5064, HR 5549 and Draft Legislation, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.
___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

27 June 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (28 June 2010)

[SLOW WEEK] The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Parliament is in its Winter recess until 24 August 2010.

High Court of Australia

The High Court is in recess and next sits 27 July 2010 in Canberra.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases involving subject matters of this blog will be heard by the Full Court this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings for 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

21 June 2010

Defence Minister's statement on 3 Diggers killed in helicopter crash

Three more Australian soldiers have been killed today in Afghanistan due to a helicopter crash. Tonight Australian Minister of Defence, Senator John Faulkner, issued a statement here. This brings the total to five Diggers killed in a fortnight's time.

SMH: HMAS Success CO blind drunk during deployment

I was unable to attend today's Commission of Inquiry but The Sydney Morning Herald and Ten News are reporting on today's HMAS Success Commission of Inquiry here. The hearing continues tomorrow and will most likely go over the next few days.

This week in Congress (21 June 2010) . . .

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Senate Armed Services Committee, to receive testimony on the progress in preventing military sucides and challenges in detection and care of the invisible wounds of war,
0930 hours, room SD-G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building. Those testifying include Army General Peter Chiarelli, Navy Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Marine Corps General James Amos, Air Force General Carrol Chandler and Dr. Robert Jesse of DoD.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, hearing on Emergency Preparedeness: Evaluation the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Fourth Mission, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health, hearing on Overcoming Rural Health Care Barriers: Use of Innovative Wireless Health Technology Solutions, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Markup of Pending Legislation (it is unclear as to what pending legislation will be marked up), 1300 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.
___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

20 June 2010

HMAS Success hearing continues today

The Commission of Inquiry into alleged incidents of unacceptable behavior on board the HMAS Success continues today (21 June 2010) at Level 11, Defence Plaza, 270 Pitt Street, Sydney at 0930 hours AEST. I have previously discussed the inquiry here.

The hearings are expected to last for several days and I will be blog posting on it.

An interim Senate report issued earlier this year can be found here. The final report is now expected to be issued by 30 June 2010.

A webpage has been setup by a Senate committee titled "Inquiry into an equity and diversity health check in the Royal Australian Navy - HMAS Success" which can be found here. The terms of reference for the Senate inquiry can be found here. According to the Senate Committee's webpage, it expects to be in a position to report to the full Senate on or about 2 September 2010.

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (21 June 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

House Petition Committee, Inquiry into the work of the Petitions Committee, 1015 hours. The terms of reference can be found here and the submissions here. A report will be issued after the matters has been tabled and hearings concluded. The report can be found here when it is published.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Full House of Representatives is expected to take up and debate Veterans' Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures).

* Senate order of business for this week is not yet available (it should be available between 1100 hours and noon time on Monday, 21 June 2010). When it is you can find it here.

High Court of Australia

Monday, 21 June 2010

The High Court is hearing one case in Brisbane today but it does not involve any of the subject matters pertaining to this blog.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The High Court is hearing several cases in Brisbane today but none involve subject matters pertaining to this blog.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Kowalski v. Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission [2010] FCA 408, SAD56/2010. Case involves an appeal from a decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal where it had affirmed the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission's decision rejecting a claim for compensation. Case issues: Whether Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971 applies? Application of Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 and consideration of "material degree" test. Errors in fact finding not errors on a matter of law as required by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1973.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings for 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.

19 June 2010

Search for missing Australian sailor off Tonga coast concludes

Today the search and rescue, or SAR, mission for missing Leading Seaman Andrew Wakley, Royal Australian Navy, has been ceased. Tongan authorities formally concluded the SAR this evening after an intensive search by HMAS Warramunga, her Seahawk helicopter and local authorities failed to locate the missing sailor.

On Wednesday Wakley, who was on shore leave from HMAS Warramunga, went missing whilst swimming at Keleti Beach Resorts, which is on the western side of Tonga. He is presumed drowned.

HMAS Warramunga will now resume her passage to Hawaii, however, the Australian Maritime Surveillance Authority based in Tonga will continue to assist local authorities in a recovery effort. Commander Bruce Legge, the commanding officer of HMAS Warramunga, said in a press release that "the decision to leave Tonga is a most difficult one, as a member of our Navy family remains unaccounted for."

Wakley's family, via the Defence Department, issued this statement a few days ago.

16 June 2010

Defence Appeal Tribunal orders Army conviction quashed

In an opinion released today, and dated 11 June 2010, the Australian Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal quashed a court-martial conviction and ordered the verdict of not guilty entered into the record in the case of Private Michael Paul Flynn.

Private Flynn, who served in the Australian Army, was charged and convicted of an offence against s 32(3) of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982, or DFDA, of being intoxicated whilst on watch at Forwarding Operating Base Union III, in Baghdad on Christmas Eve in 2008 engaged on service in connection with operations against the enemy.

A three member appeals panel consisting of Judges Tracey (President), White and Mildren issued a lengthy opinion in Flynn v. Chief of Army [2010] ADFDAT 1 (11 June 2010) holding that the evidence in the case raises the question of whether or not the Appellant’s intoxication came about as a result of a reasonable mistake as to the contents of the Gatorade bottle, and the likely effect of taking a sip or a swig from the bottle. On the whole of the evidence, the most likely inference is that the Appellant became severely intoxicated as a result of imbibing from the Gatorade bottle.

The Tribunal held that the evidence established no more than that the Appellant took a small quantity of liquid from the bottle. It that it is true that the Appellant was unable to say, when interviewed, what he thought he was drinking at the time, but on the basis of the record of interview he did not become aware that the contents contained something which he thought was alcohol until he had swallowed the first mouthful. It was submitted during trial that it is a reasonable inference that he quite possibly thought he was imbibing Gatorade, but in any event there is no evidence that he thought he was imbibing alcohol.

Turning to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Parliament's attempts to clarify the Director's powers, the Tribunal discussed the statute:
"Despite a number of attempts by Parliament to clarify the Director’s powers, under s 87, to charge a service member and to cause the charge to be placed before an appropriate service tribunal, the section remains difficult to construe. We are satisfied by reference to the language of the section and the extrinsic materials to which we have referred that it was the legislature’s intention that the Director should have the power to prefer charges, the power to make the ultimate decision as to whether charges (whether initiated by the Director or referred to the Director) should be prosecuted and if so in what tribunal and the power to conduct the prosecutions. The Director would not have all of these powers if, in order to initiate a charge herself, she must comply with s 87(1)(a) or (b) in their entirety before she can exercise any of the powers conferred on her by s 87(1)(c). Section 87(1A) in its present form was, according to paragraph 133 of the Explanatory Memorandum, designed to ensure that the Director “has the full range of options that are required by the position.” This objective could be achieved if the Director could choose to exercise the powers conferred on her by s 87(1)(a)(i) and (ii) or by s 87(1)(b) to the extent of causing to be prepared a summons which advised the service member of the offence that the person is alleged to have committed and then exercise one or more of the powers conferred on her by s 87(1)(c). Such an ability to “cherry pick” the powers conferred by s 87(1)(a) and (b) is suggested by s 87(1A)(a) which speaks of “any or all of the powers” conferred by those two paragraphs. Section 87(1A)(b), however, complicates matters by using the phrase “the power referred to in paragraph (1)(c)” when paragraph (c) plainly confers multiple powers on the Director and by saying that these powers may be exercised “in addition to, or instead of, the powers referred to in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b).” The powers conferred by s 87(1)(c) are all powers that fall to be exercised after a charge has been laid by the Director or some other authorised member of the Defence Force. It is, therefore, difficult to comprehend how the Director’s powers under s 87(1)(c) could be exercised “instead of” any of the powers conferred by s 87(1)(a) or (b)."
The Tribunal then took the view that the Director is able to charge a service member with an offence under either s 87(1)(a) or (b) and then exercise one or more of the powers conferred on her by s 87(1)(c).
"In the present case the Director exercised her power under s 87(1)(b) to cause a summons to be prepared which specified the service offence that Private Flynn was alleged to have committed and then arranged for the summons to be served on him. Once that occurred she exercised the power conferred by s 87(1)(c)(iii) to request the Registrar of Military Justice to convene a General Court Martial to try the charge. In this way we consider that Private Flynn was charged conformably with the DFDA at the time on which he was called on to plead to the charge at his trial. We note that no objection to the efficacy of the charge was taken when Private Flynn was arraigned."
In the Tribunal's opinion, it held that Private Flynn made out the principal argument that the conviction was “unsafe and unsatisfactory.” It is these circumstances, that it granted leave to appeal, allow the appeal, quashed the conviction and sentence, and entered a verdict of not guilty, despite the fact that counsel for Private Flynn, Mr T. Berkley, only sought an order for a re-trial. The Tribunal was of the opinion that there is a reasonable doubt about Private Flynn's guilt, that the remedial relief is appropriate citing M v The Queen, (1994) 181 CLR 487, 538.

15 June 2010

New VA forms to make claims process easier for U.S. veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs announced today that it has made filing clams easier.

VA has shortened application forms to reduce paperwork for veterans. The new forms, which are available on the VA's website here, include:
  • A shortened VA Form 21-526 for veterans applying for the first-time to VA for disability compensation or pension benefits. This form has been cut in half – from 23 to 10 pages. It is immediately available to veterans via web download, and will be available through VA’s online claim-filing process later this summer here.
  • VA Form 21-526b for veterans seeking increased benefits for conditions already determined by VA to be service-connected. This new form more clearly describes the information needed to support claims for increased benefits.
“These reductions in paperwork, along with other improvements to simplify and speed the claims process, symbolize changes underway to make VA more responsive to Veterans and their families,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

ADF launches $12 million health study

Today the Australian Department of Defence launched the Military Health Outcomes Program, or MilHOP, which is said to be the most extensive health study ever undertaken by DoD in its Deployment Health Surveillance Program.

Costing $12 million over five years, the four MilHOP studies include the Prospective Study, Census Study, the Health and Wellbeing Study and a Mortality and Cancer Incidence Study.

"For the first time, the government and Defence will have the information needed to support the development of evidence-based policy and targeted health programs designed to support Australian Defence Force members and their families cope with the impact of operational deployments," said Minister for Defence Personnel Alan Griffin (who is also Minister for Veterans' Affairs).

In addition to personnel who will be deploying as part of current operations in the Middle East in 2010 and 2011, more than 25,000 veterans will be invited to participate in the study. Participation in the studies will in no way affect entitlements or benefits now or at any point in the future.

MilHOP is a partnership between Defence and the Centre for Military and Veterans’ Health (CMVH), a consortium of the University of Queensland, the University of Adelaide and Charles Darwin University, and is funded by the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs.

The study is scheduled to be completed by 30 June 2012. For further information on the study go here.

14 June 2010

This week in Congress (14 June 2010) . . .

The following legislative activities, which affect U.S. servicemembers and veterans or concern military justice issues, are occurring this week in the U.S. Congress:

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, The State of the Veterans Benefits Administration, 1400 hours, room 340 Cannon House Office Building To view the live webcast go here.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, hearing on VA Health Care in Rural Areas, 0930 hours, room 418 Russell Senate Office Building.

___________________

For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

Australia Queen's birthday honour list (military division) now available.

Today in celebrating the birthday of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, Governor General Quentin Bryce, AC, has released the names of those on the honours award's list. The new officers of the the Military Division of the Order of Australia can be found here; new members in the Military Division here; those awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Military Division can be found here; and those awarded the Commendation for Gallantry can be found here.

The entire list of this year's honourees, which includes civilians honoured in specific areas, can be found here. Information about the Order of Australia can be found here.

13 June 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (14 June 2010)

The following legislative activities, which affect Australian servicemembers, veterans or concern military justice issues, relate to freedom of information or national security, are occurring this week in the Parliament of Australia:

Monday, 14 June 2010 - QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY HOLIDAY

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

HOUSE MAIN COMMITTEE: Debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) — consideration in detail (continued) — Foreign Affairs and Trade; Defence and Veterans' Affairs.


Note: At the time of this post the Senate's Dynamic Red was not available. It should be available 15 minutes before prior to the commencement of sitting on Tuesday 15 June 2010 at 1230 hours. Go here to view it.

High Court of Australia

The High Court sits this week in Canberra but none of the cases involve subject matter issues of this blog. To view the cases being argued this week go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

No cases involving the subject matter of this blog are being heard by the Full Court this week.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The Tribunal currently has no scheduled sittings for 2010.

Veterans' Review Board


For a full list of this week's cases in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney go here.