Formal Comment by the Australia Defence Association: 2011
Both sides of politics are being less than correct historically, and indeed less than honest, when trying to attribute blame for the burgeoning deficiencies in defence force amphibious vessel capabilities.
Having been appointed to conduct an independent inquiry by the Chief of the Defence Force, the Honourable Roger Gyles, AO, QC has presented an excellent report into allegations of unacceptable sexual behaviour and indiscipline aboard HMAS Success. There is no doubt a toxic subculture of unacceptable sexual attitudes and behaviour was allowed to flourish among parts of the marine technical department of this particular ship for nearly a decade.
Recent controversy about the poor state of the Navy’s amphibious fleet has again demonstrated three great truths about the confusion underlying much public debate in Australia on defence issues.
Media and consequently public controversy about certain Facebook and YouTube postings by a very small number of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan needs to be put into perspective. Those seeking to excuse the soldiers' behaviour and those seeking to portray such behaviour as typical in our defence force are both guilty of adopting extreme opinions that ignore the facts and the context involved.
Reporting of the non-consensual filming of consensual sex between two cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), contrary to ADF discipline, has now evolved into incorrect assumptions and claims that affect informed public debate on defence force capability and operational matters.
From the beginning, the Australia Defence Association has unreservedly condemned the despicable abuse of a female cadet at ADFA when her consensual sex with a male cadet was allegedly filmed and relayed to others without her apparent consent. But two wrongs do not make a right . There are two sides to every story. Now there are two victims: the female cadet wrongly filmed and the commandant being wrongly scapegoated.
There is much wrong with, and in, the Department of Defence, most of it however usually in the department, not the defence force. This is lost on many Australians, including it now seems Professor Rufus Black and those Ministers running Defence (and many of those advising them) who should know better.
The longstanding ADA position on the gender aspects of combat employment is summarised in the following ten points derived from our comprehensive discussion paper on the subject. We suggest that even if you do not necessarily agree with some or all of our deductions or conclusions summarised in these ten points, you cannot do so objectively unless you have worked through all the complexities and implications explored at length in the comprehensive discussion paper.
By fixating on the recurrent symptoms, not the causes and cures, most public argument on asylum seeking continues ineffectively. Politicians are addicted to electoral point-scoring. Refugee advocates are prone to discuss factors selectively.