The release of the relevant "hot issue brief" completely disproves the wild allegations made at the time that the Commandant and staff at ADFA had somehow acted inappropriately on learning of the non-consensual filming incident among two first-year cadets in their first ten weeks at the Academy.
Sunday, 22 January 2012,
Letter to The Canberra Times
(published, with significant ommissions, Friday, 27 January 2012)
The first Defence “hot issue brief” on the 2011 sex act filming incident at ADFA unequivocally refutes claims several particularly vile slanders that caused misinformed public outrage and worse at the time.
The brief proves that the ADFA commandant and his staff treated the matter very seriously from first learning of it late on 31 March.
Contrary to the highly damaging but false allegation that it supposedly took subsequent media publicity before they acted.
The brief also proves that the completely separate, and very minor, disciplinary proceedings already applying to the female victim of the filming incident were not somehow a subsequent attempt to intimidate her into silence about it.
Dated 7:06PM on 01 April (and apparently read by the Minister by 10:00PM), the first brief confirms that the commandant immediately called in the civil and military police — well before Channel 10 broadcast an interview with the female victim on 05 April.*
Minister of Defence, Stephen Smith, must surely now do four things if his ostensible quest for greater transparency and accountability in the ADF is dinkum.
First, instead of further inexplicable delay (having received it in mid December), the Minister must immediately release the independent report by Andrew Kirkham, QC, into the incident.
Second, he must immediately allow the reinstatement of Commodore Bruce Kafer as ADFA commandant and apologise to him publicly for the unfair and dishonourable way he has been treated;
Third, he must finally stop unfairly gagging Commodore Kafer from defending himself in public.
Finally, Minister Smith must explain why it took him nearly two weeks to publicly refute, and finally help allay, the vicious slurs and other damaging public confusion about the incident that he knew to be untrue, and which so undermined public confidence in our defence force.
Unless there is some unknown and peculiar explanation, the obvious one is Stephen Smith deliberately chose to inflame and exploit public hysteria for his own personal political leadership ambitions.
Public and defence force confidence must be restored that future ministerial control of the ADFA ADF will instead be exercised properly according to the Defence Act; the principles of natural justice, administrative law and civil control of the military; and normal community standards of fair play, honour and public office integrity.
[*Note: As the ADA noted at the time and on several occasions subsequently, the handling of this matter by Channel 10, following the approach from the victim, was undertaken professionally and with sensitivity and some perspective by the two experienced journalists concerned (Hugh Riminton and Matt Moran). The ADA continues to believe that the subsequent situation would have been much worse for both victims of the incident had many other journalists been involved. It is noteworthy that both journalists have considerable experience in covering defence issues, with one having served in the defence force. Their accurate and balanced reporting of the initial circumstances, as they were then known, is acknowledged. It was not their fault that the subsequent general media frenzy so ignored the facts of the matter and continually reported the most untruthful, ridiculous and maliciously dishonest allegations about the ADF and its handling of the matter. Nor was it their fault that subsequent public hysteria whipped up by the disgraceful media coverage, and ministerial inaction, was so ill-informed, unjust and unjustified.]