Preserving the ADF's political neutrality means never dragging it into politics for partisan advantage. Particular care needs to be exercised by all candidates and parties during election campaigns.
Letter to The Canberra Times
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
(published Monday, 30 May 2016)
Since the English civil wars, nearly 400 years of Westminster system constitutional evolution has entrenched the removal of the gun from our politics.
Our defence force is institutionally and professionally non-partisan in the execution of its duties.
But this non-partisan convention is also reciprocal across civil society.
Recent examples, from both sides of politics, where election billboards and posters feature candidates wearing their former ADF uniform unequivocally contravene the convention.
Such highly visible advertising, without any wider context or indeed other knowledge of the candidate, is particularly liable to be easily misconstrued as the ADF somehow endorsing that candidate or their political stance.
If the non-partisanship convention continues to be abused , the wearing of ADF uniform in all forms of election material will need to be regulated by the Electoral Act – as occurs with other aspects of misleading electoral advertising.
If political parties can no longer be trusted to respect the need for ADF political neutrality by reciprocating the non-partisanship convention, statutory prohibition becomes the only solution.
[Detailed ADA comment on abuses of the non-partisanship convention by both major parties may be found here].