Letters: 2017-18

Letters-to-the-editor by the Australia Defence Association 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2018

Posthumously promoting Sir John Monash is invalid, ahistoric and unnecessary

Overly focusing on Monash demeans both him and the 1st AIF as a highly successful team-based and adaptable learning organisation across the board. Its also unfair to other leaders of the 1st and 2nd AIFs. No serious Australian military historian supports the idea or the claims being made about its supposed need. Posthumously promoting Monash also exemplifies the continuing problem of emotive or ideological mythology about our military history hampering informed discussion of the modern strategic security situation Australia faces.

Anti-US diatribes bereft of context, nuance and facts

No small irony those accusing the US of "red-neck ignorance" and "hysteria" are often ignorant and hysterical ideologues.

Conscientious objection is not "discriminatory"

Secular or religious-based conscientious objection does not somehow cause unethical or unlawful discrimination. By not continuing to allow individual conscientious objection to participation in a specific act the participant believes to be fundamentally abhorrent we simply replace one form of actual discrimination, or indeed perceived bigotry, with its opposite extreme.

Preserving and consistently applying the principle of individual conscientious objection

Liberal democracy and community harmony are buttressed by enabling individuals to conscientiously object to specific acts they believe to be fundamentally abhorrent morally. Our reformed (1992) laws concerning conscientious objection to conscripted military service provide a good model for application of the principle to other contentious moral issues. As a society, the longstanding proven validity of the conscientious objection principle for community harmony and individual liberty means we either accept the right to conscientiously object in every such issue or none. If proposed new laws on contentious moral issues fail to honour the exercise of individual conscientious objection we risk replacing one form of real or perceived discrimination, or indeed bigotry, with its opposite extreme. Conscientious objection does not somehow contradict our laws against unethical discrimination. In fact, it reinforces them.

ADF contingent in Mardi Gras parade marching in defence force uniform breaches non-partisanship principle

Our democracy is buttressed by Australia having a non-political defence force. Consistent care needs to be taken to preserve the reality and perception of the ADF's political neutrality institutionally, and its personnel individually. While the Mardi Gras parade continues to include highly politicised floats and activities attacking only one side of politics, it is clearly inconsistent with ADF policy, force unity and public perception for personnel to participate wearing defence force uniform. The one-sided and highly politicised nature of parts of the parade, as an activity, is the problem, not the Mardi Gras itself, LGBTI issues, ADF inclusivity policy or some defence force personnel wishing to demonstrate their "gay pride" publicly. Nor is it analogous with the NSW Police contingent now wearing uniform, not least because this is a separate issue in both principle and practice. The police contingent wear uniform primarily to reassure LGBTI Australians that the era of state police persecution is behind us all.

Trump panic showing the extent of misunderstandings about the nature and purpose of the Australia-US alliance

Australia-US alliance is strong, tested, geo-strategically logical and irreplaceable. It is not personality-based, nor does Trump's personality, real or imagined, really matter over the medium to long term. Much of the panic over the election of Donald Trump also seems driven by political biases or outright ideological hostility, rather than objective analysis.

Stop MP rorting by aligning all their conditions of service with the strict rules applying to the ADF & APS

As well as stopping endemic parliamentary rorting, treating MPs like ADF & APS personnel would make parliament pay appropriate attention to such responsibilities. Particularly concerning the pay and conditions of our defence force which, in stark contrast to the pay and conditions of parliamentarians, are often treated tardily, inadequately or otherwise unfairly by governments of both political persuasions. Not least because ADF personnel are necessarily forbidden by law from collective industrial representation but are - now uniquely in the entire Australian workforce - still subject to strict centralised wage-fixing by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal which is itself limited to only accepting or rejecting Department of Finance "offers". The DFRT is not allowed to adjust such offers, as Fairwork Australia can, if they need backdating or are manifestly inadequate or otherwise unfair.

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