30 March 2010

Australia's nation building economic stimulus results in defence housing

Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science Greg Combet (ALP-NSW) has announced that the Defence House Australia, or DHA, has completed half of the expected homes to be delivered through Australia's Nation Building-Economic Stimulus Plan.

"DHA was allocated $245.58 million to build 802 houses throughout Australia as part of the Federal Government's stimulus plan. Due to program efficiencies an additional 27 houses have been included in the program, increasing the total to 829 houses," said Combet. The new homes have been built in major regional centres where there is a strong Defence presence and will help to take the pressure off the local housing markets for Australian Defence Force personnel and their families.

The construction of all 829 houses is ahead of schedule and expected to be completed in the first half of next year.

An ADF press release can be found here.

29 March 2010

Equal Justice for Troops blog is one year old

Today marks the one year birthday of Equal Justice for Troops blog. In our first year we have blogged 243 times. Nick Wiesener and Sean Flynn, both Australian Army veterans (Sean is still in the Army Reserve), joined the blog and have posted. Last month the National Library of Australia selected the blog for preservation.

This week in Congress (29 March 2010) - RECESS

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:

Both the House and Senate are in recess until 13 April 2010.
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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

28 March 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (29 March 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 in recess. Both the Senate and House will reconvene on 11 May 2010, but there are still Committee hearings occurring this week during the recess.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Senate and House Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Joint Committee, Review of the Defence Annual Report 2008-2009, Parliament House, room 2R1, 0900 - 1500 hours,

Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Hearing on Suicide in Australia, 1300 - 1700 hours, Committee Room 2, West Australian Legislative Assembly, 1/11 Harvest Terrace, Perth. Terms of reference can be found here. Department of Veterans' Affairs submission can be found here in PDF. A complete list of submissions can be found here. [Note the deadline to submit and submission had been extended until 24 June 2010. Anyone seeking to make a submission can learn how to here.]

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Hearing on Suicide in Australia, 0900 - 1530 hours, Committee Room 2, West Australian Legislative Assembly, 1/11 Harvest Terrace, Perth. Terms of reference can be found here. Department of Veterans' Affairs submission can be found here in PDF. A complete list of submissions can be found here. [Note the deadline to submit and submission had been extended until 24 June 2010. Anyone seeking to make a submission can learn how to here.]

High Court of Australia

The High Court is sitting this week but none of the cases that will be heard involve matters pertaining to this blog. To view the cases that will be heard 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.

27 March 2010

Marine's court-martial cleared for trial; no unlawful command influence

The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting here that a military judge at Camp Pendleton has cleared the way for the court-martial of U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich. Earlier in the week Lieutenant Colonel David Jones, USMC, the military judge in Wuterich's court-martial, ruled that the burden had shifted to the Government to disprove unlawful command influence occurred. I discussed that here. However, on Friday Jones ruled that there was no unlawful command influence and denied the defense's motion to dismiss the case.

Wuterich will now have to defend himself on nine counts of voluntary manslaughter and other charges consisting of aggravated assault, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice.

There is website that has been setup to support Wuterich and gives information about the case, which can be found here. A second website called Defend Our Marines also concerns the Wuterich case as well as other Marines involved in incidents in Fallajuh and Haditha. (Back in 2008 I wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled Separate and unequal military justice concerning Marine Sergeant Jose Luis Nazzario's acquittal.)

Wuterich is well represented by civilian attorneys Neal Puckett and Mark Zaid. He is also assigned military defense counsel Lieutenant Colonel Colby Vokey, USMC.

26 March 2010

Army opens two new health facilities for Lavarack Barracks

Two new primary health facilities servicing the Australian Army's Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, Queensland have just been opened. Senator Jan McLucas (Labor-QLD) opened the facilities at an official ceremony yesterday. Both facilities are designed to provide primary health support to approximately 2,200 Army personnel.

The Townsville facilities are named in honour of two former Army medical staff that made significant contributions in former conflicts.

  • Colonel Alfred Sutton commanded the 3rd Field Ambulance in Gallipoli in support of 3rd Brigade. It was with Colonel Sutton’s approval that Pte John Simpson Kirkpatrick (of Simpson and his donkey fame) was allowed to work independently in casualty collection at Gallipoli, endorsed by giving his own Red Cross armband to the donkey.
  • Corporal John James Davis earned the Military Medal for heroism in treating wounded under fire in 1968 during his service as a medic in Vietnam with the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment.
Alfred Sutton Health Facility will provide primary health care to units located on the eastern end of the Barracks and the JJ Davis Health Facility, the western end. Units supported will include Lavarack Barracks (Townsville) based units of the 3rd Brigade, 11th Brigade and 17th Brigade,” said Senator McLucas.

Cost to the Aussie taxpayer was $7.2 million and construction took just nine months. (Tax money well spent in my humble opinion.)

For further information an ADF press release can be found here.

25 March 2010

Pentagon announces changes in the way "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is implemented

Today U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced changes in the way America's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is implemented.

"I have approved a serious of changed to the implementation of the current statute. They were developed with full participation of the department's senior civilian and military leadership, and the changes are unanimously supported by Chairman Mullen, Vice Chairman Cartwright and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff." said Gates.

The changes include:
  • Only a general or flag officer may separate an enlisted member believed at the conclusion of an investigation to have engaged in homosexual conduct. Under previous policy, a colonel -- or for a captain in the Navy and Coast Guard – could order separation.
  • A revision in what’s needed to begin an inquiry or a separation proceeding. Information provided by a third party now must be given under oath, “discouraging the use of overheard statements and hearsay,” Gates said.
  • Certain categories of confidential information -- such as information provided to lawyers, clergy and psychotherapists -- no longer will be used in support of discharges. Information provided to medical personnel in furtherance of treatment, or to a public-health official in the course of seeing professional assistance for domestic or physical abuse also is excluded, as well as information obtained in the process of security-clearance investigations, in accordance with existing Pentagon policies.
A transcript of Gates' remarks can be found here.

DADT is still being reviewed by the DoD for possible repeal by Congress. The terms of reference for the review can be found here.

The Pentagon’s chief attorney, Jeh Johnson, and Army General Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, head Gates’ working group charged with studying the potential implications of the law’s repeal. The panel will report its findings by 1 December 2010. The group will spend the next several months traveling to military installations to learn how servicemembers and families will react to a potential repeal. DoD issued this press release last month on the appointment of the review panel.

Chairman of the JCS, Admiral Mullen, has a blog on DADT.

24 March 2010

New pension rates for Aussie veterans

As of 20 March 2010, there are new pension rates for Australian veterans. The new rates, which have an increase of $29.20 a fortnight, can be found here.

LA Times reporting military judge shifted burden to Government to disprove unlawful command influence in Marine's court-martial

The Los Angeles Times' Tony Perry is reporting here that a military judge at Camp Pendleton has ruled U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the last Marine to face charges in the fatal shootings of Iraq civilians in Haditha, has shown that there was a possibility of unlawful command influence. Thus shifting the burden to the Government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no unlawful command influence existed, or if it did, that it did not influence the convening authority's decision making.

23 March 2010

HMAS Success sex betting inquiry continues today

[UPDATED] Today, in Sydney, public hearings will continue for the Commission of Inquiry into matters arising from equity and diversity issues on board the HMAS Success. The hearings will commence at 1000 AEST, 24 March 2010 at Defence Plaza, Level 11, 270 Pitt Street in Sydney according to a media alert released last night by the Australian Defence Force which can be found here. Media is requested to arrive no later than 0945 AEST.

This blog has previously discussed this case here, here, here and here.

The Australian Defence Force has made available to the public the instrument of appointment in the Commission of Inquiry into the HMAS Success on the alleged incidents of unacceptable behaviour involving sex betting. The 7 page ADF document, dated 9 March 2010, can be found here.

A report was due to be furnished to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade no later than Thursday, 18 March 2010, according to the recently released ADF instrument of appointment. An interim report can be found here. The final report is expected to be issued by 30 June 2010.

A webpage has been setup by the 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.

Update: This afternoon the Sydney Morning Herald issued this report on the inquiry.

22 March 2010

This week in Congress (22 March 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, 23 March 2010


House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, to receive testimony on military associations' legislative priorities, 0930 hours, HVC 210.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Oversight Hearing: VA's Plan for Ending Homelessness among Veterans, 0930 hours, 418 Russell Senate Office Building.

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Examination of VA Regional Office Disability Claims Quality Review Methods - Is the VBA's Systematic Technical Accuracy Review (STAR) Making the Grade?, 1400 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health Legislative Hearing on H.R. 949, H.R. 1075, H.R. 2699, H.R. 2879, H.R. 3926, H.R. 4006, H.R. 84, and 3 Discussion Drafts, 1000 hours, 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

21 March 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (22 March 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, 24 March 2010

Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Hearing on Suicide in Australia, 1330 - 1700 hours, Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra. Terms of reference can be found here. Department of Veterans' Affairs submission can be found here in PDF. A complete list of submissions can be found here. [Note the deadline to submit and submission had been extended until 24 June 2010. Anyone seeking to make a submission can learn how to here.]

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Hearing on Suicide in Australia, 0900 - 1700 hours, Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House, Canberra. Terms of reference can be found here. Department of Veterans' Affairs submission can be found here in PDF. A complete list of submissions can be found here. [Note the deadline to submit and submission had been extended until 24 June 2010. Anyone seeking to make a submission can learn how to here.]

High Court of Australia

The High Court is not sitting until 29 March 2010. None of the cases to be heard involve matters pertaining to this blog. To view the cases that will be heard 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.

17 March 2010

TROOPS PERSONAL RECORDS IN PUBLIC FREE-FOR-ALL

Equal Justice For Troops has recently been made aware of a significant oversight in the Archives Act 1983 which allows for the public to access all records of a Defence Force veteran so long as the records are over 30 years old; including confidential medical, psychological and performance reports. Compounding the issue, the defence force member would not be informed that their records have been accessed and are unable to know who has accessed them.

The Defence Force Welfare Association DFWA (responsible for bringing the issue to the attention of Equal Justice For Troops) has contacted relevant authorities and requested amendments to the Archives Act 1983. This was done after the association received a complaint from a concerned member of the public who had requested a relatives service records from the National Archives of Australia (NAA) and was sent, among other records, confidential medical reports.

Under s.5 of the Archives Act 1983, the NAA is vested with making Commonwealth records available to the public after 30 years. however, the legislation includes a number of exemptions that prohibit the release of certain records, notably:

s.33.1 (d) Information or matter the disclosure of which under this Act would constitute a breach of confidence;

s.33.1 (g) Information or matter the disclosure of which under this Act would involve the unreasonable disclosure of information relating to the personal affairs of any person (including a deceased person);

The problem that arises is that the legislation provides no clear definition for the terms "breach of confidence" or "personal affairs" and this ambiguity has led to the issue at hand. The implications of this are very concerning for both current and ex-serving members of the ADF. Contemporary Defence medical and psychological consultations are given in-confidence, as are many performance reports. Older records of the same kind, that may not have explicitly been given 'in-confidence', should no doubt be considered exempt from release as it would involve the unreasonable disclosure of the personal affairs of the member. If they are of the same nature as contemporary Defence in-confidence records then surely they should be given the same respect in terms of privacy. Even still, it is unclear whether the NAA would consider contemporary defence in-confidence records as exempt, given its stance regarding confidential personal medical records.

Most concerning is the public access to former defence personnel's psychological reports. In such consultations soldiers often speak of their fears, difficulties dealing with incidents whilst on deployment and occasionally dealing with post-traumatic stress or post-deployment stress disorder (PDSD). Allowing public access to these records is undoubtedly an unreasonable disclosure of a veteran's 'personal affairs' and a serious breach in the confidence a member has placed in the ADF. Unfortunately, due to the ambiguity of the legislation, the NAA does not seem to agree.

Whilst it would appear most current and ex-serving members feel quite strongly about protecting the privacy of their personal records, finding a suitable balance between veteran's privacy and the public's right to access Commonwealth archives is a more difficult issue. Should all records other than basic service details be regarded as 'personal affairs' and be prohibited from public access without the permission of the member concerned? Or should the exemption from access only extend to medical and psychological records and allow public access to confidential performance reports? Either way, it would be a vast improvement on the current open door policy, adopted by the NAA to all Defence personal records over 30 years of age.

The DFWA is still waiting for a response from the relevant authorities as to the rectification of this matter. Equal Justice For Troops will closely follow any developments in conjunction with the DFWA and will be ready to take further action to defend the privacy of veteran's personal records if the need arises.

16 March 2010

NYT's article on veterans' courts

Last July I wrote this post concerning an article which appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune regarding veterans' courts. Today the New York Times published an article here concerning veterans' courts.

CAAFlog is also discussing this topic here.

I think it's proper to have these specialized courts given the fact that some of our veterans' who have spent two or more tours in the Afghanistan and/or Iraq theaters may be suffering with a traumatic brain injury. These veterans' courts would be better equipped to handle cases where veterans' have been accused of crimes. It's also good that the mainstream media is reporting on this issue.

An inside perspective to media concerns on the ADF budget

As I’m sure we have all noticed and have taken great interest in the recent articles posted by Norbert regarding Defence spending. While for the most part I leave politics alone, and am content in following my orders (as I’m still a current serving officer), Defence spending is one issue I will gladly speak on. While I do agree with many of my colleagues points, I am additionally aware that what information trickles down to my pay grade and in the public domain is only a fraction of what is really going on.

My comments will be heavily Army based, as I would rather speak of what I know, hear and see, than what I think happens in the other Services.

As with any defence budget cut that is invoked, it’s normally my diggers that miss out. It’s the ones at the bottom of the chain are the ones hardest hit, yet expected to perform the vital functions.

During my short time as an Army Infantry Officer, I have noticed and am aware of much expenditure that is needless and could be better used. I do tend to agree with the Sydney Morning Herald article in that the expenditure of Learjets, first class airfares and five star accommodation is lavish, however it’s my belief these have their place in only a very few circumstances. However, for domestic trips I believe it’s highly inappropriate, but are aware that this occurrs.

As I continue to read the SMH articles $518 million is to be saved through cutting the budget on health, training, advertising. These areas do not need cost cutting, they need to be given more, or at least keep their current budgets. Why? Health is a major issue. Our soldiers need to be medical fit if they are to perform their duties.
Our military (especially Army) is undermanned, and need to recruit heavily. Cutting the advertising and recruitment budgets seem to be ‘setting up for failure’, when our training reinforces “setting yourself up for success”!

My last visit to the School of Infantry, there were many, IETs that were in the holding platoon, mostly due to medical circumstances, but also due to spots not being available on their next course. Small training budgets mean less trained troops.

It appears that Defence is going to be accountable for its expenditures as if it’s a business. So let’s not treat it like a business. Let’s look at it as an organisation. A business would not outsource a job or position, when they are capable and more to the point have employed people already performing that task. Hence, let’s look at these civilian contracts. Why do we have civilian cooks when we have military ones? Why do we have civilian transport drivers when we have military ones? Why do we have civilian security when we are the MILITARY? Just to scratch the surface…

Why is it that Government at every level, insists on employing three people to do a one person job?

Let’s look at the Army Reserves. One of the primary roles of the reserves is to reinforce in the regular forces by filling the gaps. I’m starting to wonder how the reserves are meant to do this when their own budget doesn’t allow them to have a weekly parade. How they maintain their skills when they are not able to afford ammunition, or simply conduct a training weekend. Almost every unit that I know, have had to cut their training days and cancel training activities due to their budget. The well known slogan of the reservist, “one night week, one weekend a month, two weeks a year” should now read – “one night a week mostly, one weekend a month occasionally, two weeks a year fingers crossed”.

Yet, despite these units operating with one hand tied behind their backs, the officers and NCO’s in these units give 100% in their efforts providing for their soldiers.

I’m trying to force myself to keep this short, as I haven’t even scratched the surface. I am passionate about our defence force, and even with these continuing problems, Australia is continually producing some of best soldiers in the world.

However, this frustration of mine regarding the budget, training, civilian contracts and equipment, is generated from two folds. One from running a business and dealing with small budgets, and second being a member of the defence force and seeing first hand the problems and potential opportunities where this should be fixed and are not.

15 March 2010

Instrument of appointment in HMAS Success sex betting scandal now available

The Australian Defence Force has made available to the public the instrument of appointment in the Commission of Inquiry into the HMAS Success on the alleged incidents of unacceptable behaviour involving sex betting. The 7 page ADF document, dated 9 March 2010, can be found here.

A report is due to be furnished to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade no later than Thursday, 18 March 2010, according to the recently released ADF document. A webpage has been setup by the 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.

This week in Congress (15 March 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, 15 March 2010


House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, to receive testimony on legislative support of families, 1730 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Heroes Homecoming Roundtable, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, to receive testimony on military personnel legislative priorities, 1400 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.


Thursday, 18 March 2010


Senate Armed Services Committee, to receive testimony relating to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, 0930 hours, Room SH-216 Senate Hart Office Building. Testimony from General John J. Sheelan, USMC (Ret.); Michael D. Almy; and Jenny L. Kopfstein.

House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, hearing on Legislative Presentation by AMVETS, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Gold War Wives, The Retired Enlisted Association, Fleet Reserve Association, Vietnam Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 0930 hours, Dirksen Senate Office Building room G-50. To view the live webcast go here.

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Readiness, Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Budget Requests for military construction, family housing, base closure, facilities operation and maintenance, 1400 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.


House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Claims Summit 2010, 1400 hours, room 345 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

13 March 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (15 March 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, 15 March 2010

Senate and House Public Accounts and Audit Committee, Annual Public Hearing on the Defence Major Projects Report 2010, 1030 - 1130 hours, Parliament House.

High Court of Australia

The High Court is not sitting until 29 March 2010. None of the cases to be heard involve matters pertaining to this blog. To view the cases that will be heard 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.

Veterans' Review Board


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

10 March 2010

Commission of inquiry into HMAS Success' sex ring

Tomorrow, in Sydney, public hearings will commence for the Commission of Inquiry into matters arising from equity and diversity issues on board the HMAS Success. The hearings will commence at 0930 AEST, 12 March 2010 at Defence Plaza, Level 11, 270 Pitt Street in Sydney according to a media alert released today by the Australian Defence Force which can be found here.

This blog has previously discussed this case here, here, here and here.

09 March 2010

Senator Faulkner responds to SMH article on defence spending

The Sydney Morning Herald today is reporting here that Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner (ALP-NSW), has said that "financial control is critical" in light of yesterday's SMH article, which I have previously discussed here.

Senator Faulkner has asked Secretary of Defence Ian Watt to conduct an internal review the contracts reported yesterday by the SMH.

I still stand by my comments yesterday concerning spending on our Australian Defence Force personnel. Proper fitness equipment and also funding for education abroad should still continue. Those types of expenses is Aussie taxpayer money well spent on those that defend and protect our democratic way of life.

It's my opinion that the SMH article was narrow sighted when it criticized some of the defence spending on our military personnel. Unfortunately, Senator Faulkner fails to defend that spending in his comments. Rather he just stated that some of the spending was legitimate without going into specifics.

Having diggers and sailors that are well educated affords us with the best and brightest in uniform. Likewise, having proper fitness equipment in gyms ensures our military personnel are in top physical shape.

Returned & Services League of Australia weighs in on proposal to merge military superannuation boards into one board on eve of Parliamentary hearings

The Returned & Services League of Australia ("RSL") has weighed in on the proposal to merge the Military Superannuation Boards into one Commonwealth Superannuation Board.

On Thursday the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee will hold a hearing on the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Scheme Bill 2010, the ComSuper Bill 2010 and the Superannuation Legislation (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2010, (This includes the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973; Defence Force Retirement Benefits Act 1948; and Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme.) Explanatory memorandums can be found here and here.

The RSL's submission can be found here. The RSL notes that the Government failed to consult the RSL about the proposed changes to the governance of military superannuation schemes which affects its members.

Australia largest veteran's organisation, the RSL, indicated that is has concerns about several aspects of the proposal and legislation. It noted that the findings and recommendations of the government review, cited in reliance of the need for change, have not been made public for critical review.

Further, the veteran's organisation argues that the intended merger of military and civilian superannuation schemes is inconsistent with the principles of separateness underlying the legislation under which the schemes were originally established by Parliament.

The RSL recommends that further consideration of the pending legislation be deferred to allow military superannuates time to examine relevant information and make an informed assessment about the legislation.

[Disclaimer: The author of this post is a member of the RSL]

08 March 2010

Australian Defence Force in hotwater for spending according to SMH; article is a bit narrow sighted concerning spending on military personnel

Today's Sydney Morning Herald ran a story entitled "The wrong stuff" which has drawn heaps of national attention concerning defence spending and accountability.

A 2008-09 Defence Material Organisation review, simply known as the Pappas Review, which can be found here, noted that defence was wasting approximately $1.8 billion per year in unneccessary spending.

Thus far the ADF has yet to make any statement. (I'm sure sometime this morning the ADF will make a statement and I'll update this post.)

I do take issue with the SMH implying that there are issues with spending on military personnel for gym equipment and for some of our military personnel to be educated at overseas universities. Our defence personnel routinely put the lives on the line for freedoms we routinely take for granted on a daily basis. Proper recreational items, including, but not limited to, fitness equipment is most appropriate spending on our young men and women that wear the uniform to protect and defend us.

Well educated military personnel, even if they are educated at Harvard University at a cost to the Aussie taxpayer, ensures that our military has the best and the brightest in uniform. Criticizing the spending of tax payers dollars on the education of our military is just plain wrong.

I also take issue with the SMH criticizing that school-age Army cadets where flown overseas for training programs at a cost of $160,000. As a former military cadet myself, I can say that training trips overseas foster many positive values within our youth that carry over into their adulthood. Those positive values include, instilling confidence, obtaining an outside perspective of the rest of the world, providing a broad range of training which enables young quality cadets to become future leaders in our ADF, and the concept of working as a team in unfamiliar surroundings.

Training trips of Army cadets also serves to weed-out, through being an Army cadet, perspective ADF candidates who would not do well with the idea or concept of being stationed overseas. In the end it saves the Aussie taxpayer heaps of money because those cadets who complete an overseas training trip and do not enjoy it, would then not likely join the ADF. The end result thus saves tens of thousands, in not hundred of thousands dollars, in training misplaced training of personnel that may not be a good fit for the ADF.

Whilst the article does point out valid issues with some spending, it takes an unfair and unjust swipe at spending on our military personnel. Thus I take serious issue with that.

This week in Congress (8 March 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, 9 March 2010


House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Legislative Presentation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, 0930 hours, room G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

Senate Armed Services Committee, to receive testimony on U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Joint Forces Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2011 and the Future Years Defense Program, 0930 hours, room SH-216, Hart Senate Office Building.

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, testimony on reviewing studies of the effects of deployment on military children, 1730 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

House Armed Services Committee, Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Budget Requests from the U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Joint Forces Command, 1000 hours, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Markup of Pending Legislation (it's unclear what pending legislation will be marked up.)
, 1000 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.

Senate Armed Services Committee, to receive testimony of the Active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian personnel programs in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2011 and the Future Years Defense Program, 1030 hours, room SR-323A, Russell Senate Office Building.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Senate Armed Services Committee, to receive testimony on the U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2011 and the Future Years Defense Program, 0900 hours, room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs' Center for Veteran Enterprise, 1300 hours, room 334 Cannon House Office Building. To view the live webcast go here.
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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

06 March 2010

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (8 March 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:

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, hearing on Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Scheme Bill 2010, the ComSuper Bill 2010 and the Superannuation Legislation (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2010,* 1530 - 1900 hours, Parliament House, Committee room S21.

Explanatory memorandums can be found here and here.

The Returned & Services League of Australia's submission can be found here. [Disclaimer: All authors of this blog are members of the RSL.]

[*Note: the hearing includes the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973; Defence Force Retirement Benefits Act 1948; and Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme.]


High Court of Australia

Friday, 12 March 2010

The High Court is holding hearings on special leave applications. However, none of these applications involve issues pertinent to this blog. For a list of the special leave applications go here and 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.

Veterans' Review Board


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

04 March 2010

Chairwoman of Subcommittee on Military Personnel in House Armed Services Committee calls for a moratorium on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Yesterday Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee called for a moratorium on the American policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces.

"I believe there is a way to stem the tide of these painful and unnecessary discharges, especially those instigated by third parties, and avoid subjecting the force to confusion about the direction of the policy," said Davis. "A moratorium on discharges would be an appropriate action to take while the Department decides how to implement repeal."

America's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy came into effect in 1993 and has resulted in over 13,300 discharges to date including much needed linguists. The policy has been upheld by the courts. Davis, who supports a permanent repeal held a hearing yesterday in her subcommittee. Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, who would ultimately be charged with implementing a change in the policy, testified yesterday.

Davis is one of 190 cosponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, H.R. 1283, which if passed would allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in America's military.

Other allied nations have permitted gays and lesbians to serve in their military forces. Australia (my other home country) has permitted homosexuals to serve since 1992. Other countries that allow gays and lesbians to serve in uniform (just to name a few) include Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Philippines, Russia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Davis also remarked that she "would ask those who oppose repeal to join us on the right side of history."

01 March 2010

U.S. report of the Code Committee on Military Justice is now available for FY 2009

The Code Committee on Military Justice, in the United States, has released its annual report, for FY 2009, which can be found here. The report provides court-martial statistics and reports from each of the armed services.