26 June 2011

This week in Congress (27 June 2011)

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 and in Commissions:

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, hearing on Improving Contracting for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Throughout the Federal Government, 1000 hours, Room 334 Cannon House Office Building.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Mark up of Legislation, 1500 hours, 418 Russell Senate Office Building.

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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

This (slow) week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (27 June 2011)

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:

Both Houses of Parliament are in recess until 4 July 2011.

High Court of Australia

The Full High Court next sits in Canberra in August 2011.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

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

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The DFDAT next sits on 15 and 16 September 2011.

Veterans' Review Board


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

23 June 2011

AAT affirms decision of MRCC holding that State compensation must be offset against any SRCA entitlement

The Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal today affirmed, Roberts v. Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission [2011] AATA 430.

Jeffery Roberts was a member of the Royal Australian Air Force and whilst on active duty sustained serious damage to four teeth and a broken jaw. He was then awarded a payment from New South Wales under the Victims Compensation Act 1996 (NSW) (now renamed the Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996 (NSW). However, Mr Roberts also lodged a claim to the Australian Government under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 or SRCA.

The Australian Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission determined that the Commission was not liable to pay compensation under SRCA because Mr Roberts had already received compensation from the NSW State Government. The AAT affirmed.

DFDAT dismisses Army Major's appeal

The Australian Defense Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal dismissed the case of Green v. Chief of Army [2011] ADFDAT 2.

In 2009, a general court-martial found Major John Green guilty of one count of knowingly making a false statement and three counts of obtaining financial advantage by receiving payments to which he was not entitled to.

Major Green appealed the court-martial conviction on two grounds: the Judge Advocate had erred in ruling that the "honest claim of right" defence was not available and the conviction was unsafe and unsatisfactory having regard to the evidence.

The DFDAT, Justices Tracey, White and Duggan rejected Major Green's appeal and ordered it dismissed.

22 June 2011

Australian Defence Force posture review to be conducted

Mr Stephen Smith, Minister for the Australian Defence Force ("ADF"), announced today that the Government will undertake a Force Posture Review to assess whether the ADF is correctly geographically positioned to meet Australia’s modern and future strategic and security challenges.

The Force Posture Review will be undertaken by the Department of Defence and overseen by a panel comprised of Dr Allan Hawke and Mr Ric Smith who are national security experts.

Results of the Review and the views of the Expert Panel will help provide a strategic context for the next scheduled Defence White Paper in the first quarter of 2014.

The Review will address the range of present and emerging global, regional and national strategic and security factors which require careful consideration for the future, including: the rise of the Asia-Pacific as a region of global strategic significance; the rise of the Indian Ocean rim as a region of global strategic significance; the growth of military power projection capabilities of countries in the Asia Pacific; the growing need for the provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief following extreme events in the Asia Pacific region; and
energy security and security issues associated with expanding offshore resource exploitation in our North West and Northern approaches.

The Force Posture Review will:

a) as its starting point draw on the security, strategic and capability judgements outlined in the Defence White Paper 2009 Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030;

b) draw on work currently underway in Defence through the 2011 Annual Defence Planning Guidance;

c) outline the future security and strategic environment and challenges Australia needs to be positioned to respond to up to 2030;

d) consider the potential strategic and security role of Australia’s offshore territories, particularly Cocos and Christmas Islands, for Force Posture requirements;

e) consider the implications for ADF Force Posture of the need for energy security, including security issues associated with expanding offshore resource exploitation in our North West and Northern approaches;

f) consider how the future ADF Force Posture will support Australia’s ability to respond to a range of activities including:

  • deployments on missions and operations overseas;
  • support of operations in our wider region; and
  • practical engagement with the countries of the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean rim in ways that help to shape security and strategic circumstances in Australia’s interest;
  • assess the impact on the ADF’s Force Posture of a range of domestic, demographic and economic issues including:
  • more intense minerals and petroleum resource activities around Defence training and exercise ranges;
  • urban encroachment on existing Defence facilities;
  • community attitudes to living standards and residential locations; and
  • the need for a more cost-effective approach to basing;

h) make recommendations in relation to the basing options for Force 2030 across Australia including in relation to:

  • Navy platforms (including the Air Warfare Destroyers, Landing Helicopter Docks, Future Submarines, the ANZAC Frigate and its replacements and offshore patrol vessels);
  • Army’s additional northern basing requirements; and
  • Air Force’s plans to introduce a range of new aircraft and associated support systems into service; and
i) consider other relevant issues including population and population spread.

The Review will complement the work currently underway with the United States on the ongoing United States Global Force Posture Review by the joint Australian-United States working group.

Dr Hawke, a former Secretary of the Department of Defence, and Mr Smith, Australia’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a former Secretary of the Department of Defence, will provide overall guidance to the Defence Force Posture Review.

On Dr Hawke’s and Mr Smith’s recommendation, the Expert Panel may be augmented with additional expertise during the course of the Review.

The panel will provide a progress report to me before the end of 2011, with its Report provided to Government during the first quarter of 2012.

For further information on the review go here.

19 June 2011

Aussie defence retirement bill torpedoed in Senate by one vote

Australian veterans who are Commonwealth superannuants were dealt a blow late last week by Senator Kate Lundy who represents the ACT when she voted against a bill to give fair indexation to Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits ("DFRDB") recipients.

The Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Amendment (Fair Indexation) Bill 2010 would have indexed DFRDB pensions against either the Consumer Price Index ("CPI"), Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index ("PBLCI") or Male Total Average Weekly Earnings ("MTAWE").

Senator Lundy, who supposedly supports fair indexation as indicated here, voted against the bill last Thursday. Given that the bill was lost by one vote, Senator Lundy’s decision has cost the Defence retirees of Australia dearly.

Calls and emails to Senator Lundy's office seeking comment have not yet been returned at the time of this post.

“I am stunned at Senator Lundy’s hypocrisy,” said Senator Gary Humphries, also of the ACT.

“It is just not good enough to campaign on an issue at an election, and then vote against that position in Parliament. The Coalition made a very strong commitment to the veterans' community at the last election and we voted to see that through,” said Senator Humphries.

The Returned & Services League of Australia or RSL issued this press release indicating its "great disappointment at the defeat in the Senate."

The RSL has made it clear that it will not relent in its efforts aimed at convincing Senators and Members of the House of Representatives to pass legislation supporting the legitimate and reasonable expectations of military superannuants for fair indexation.

[Disclaimer: I am a member of the RSL and hold office within it.]

This week in Congress (20 June 2011)

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 and in Commissions:

Monday, 20 June 2011

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Veterans Health Care in Michigan's Upper Peninsula: Where Are We?, 1000 hours, Oscar G. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 325 East H Street, Iron Mountain, MI

Thursday, 23 June 2011

House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Arlington National Cemetery: An Update from the New Administration, 1430 hours, Room 334 Cannon House Office Building.
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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

18 June 2011

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (20 June 2011)

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, 20 June 2011

Joint House and Senate Treaties Committee, Treaty tabled on 23 March 2011, 1030 - 1200 hours. To view the Terms of Reference go here and the Submissions here.

High Court of Australia

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The full High Court is hearing several appeals today which does not involve subject matter of this blog. To view a list of cases being heard today go here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

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

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The DFDAT next sits on 15 and 16 September 2011.

Veterans' Review Board


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

06 June 2011

RSL: Unwarranted delays in Australian Defence Force justice

Yesterday the Returned & Services League of Australia or "RSL" issued this press release concerning what it states is an "inordinate delay in the legal process surrounding the decision of the Director of Military Prosecutions to prosecute three members of the Australian Defence Force charged with very serious offenses alleged to have been committed during operational service in Afghanistan."

Last month Brigadier Ian Westwood, who was the military judge in a general court-martial of two members of the ADF from 1 Commando Regiment, charged with manslaughter and dangerous conduct during their service in Afghanistan found that the charges failed to disclose a service related offence and was bad at law. Charges were then referred back to the Director of Military Prosecutions to either accept the decision, or appeal it or raise fresh charges against the soldiers.

The RSL, in its statement, believes in and supports the process of military justice and respects the independence of the Director of Military Prosecutions, and insists on its democratic responsibility to raise concerns and public awareness about what the RSL believes is a denial of justice in this instance.

However, the RSL argues that "excessive and unexplained delays in these legal proceedings is deleterious to the morale of the Australian Defence Force, is an affront to all who have previously served the nation and is the antithesis of what members of the League believe should be a robust, fair and efficient system of military justice."

To view the documentation released by the Australian Government via the Freedom of Information Act on the two diggers charged with manslaughter and dangerous conduct whilst serving in Afghanistan go here.

[Disclaimer I am a member of the RSL and hold elected office within it.]

This week in Congress (6 June 2011)

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 and in Commissions:

The House is in recess this week but the Senate is in session.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, consideration of pending legislation, 0930 hours, Room 418 Russell Senate Office Building

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Senate Armed Services Committee, confirmation hearing of Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense, 0930 hours, Room G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
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For this week in military justice go to CAAFlog here.

05 June 2011

This week in Parliament, Courts and Tribunals (6 June 2011)

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 session this week but there are no committee meetings scheduled involving the subject matter of this blog.

High Court of Australia

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The full High Court is hearing one case today at 1015 hours which does not involve subject matter of this blog.

Friday, 10 June 2011


The High Court is hearing numerous special leave applications in Sydney and Melbourne (with video link to Adelaide and Perth) today. None involve subject matter of this blog. To view the list of the applications go here and here.

Federal Court of Australia (Full Court)

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

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

The DFDAT next sits on 16 and 17 June 2011.

Veterans' Review Board


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