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David Morrison defends his record -

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MARK COLVIN: Former army chief David Morrison has hit back at returned service men and women who've criticised his appointment as Australian of the Year.

For weeks, the retired lieutenant general has come under sustained attack for his actions while in the military and his work in his new role.

Now general Morrison has broken his silence, speaking exclusively to the ABC's defence reporter Andrew Greene.

ANDREW GREENE: Since being named Australian of the Year last month, David Morrison has become hot property. He's a highly sought after public speaker, and is travelling the country promoting various causes.

But for the past few weeks, he's also come under constant attack from some members of the military community who feel he's abandoned them.

Now, for the first time, he's hitting back.

DAVID MORRISON: I'm not going to be defined by my critics though, I'm going to be defined by those people who selected me as Australian of the Year, and who want to see from me a contribution to Australia to be a place where people get their chance to reach their potential.

ANDREW GREENE: Many serving and former defence members have accused the one-time army chief of not doing enough to promote the cause of veterans in his new high-profile role.

DAVID MORRISON: I've been around veterans all my life, and those who know me know that I care deeply for veterans and I of course will be involved with them during the course of 2016 - but every year of my life as well.

ANDREW GREENE: He's also faced public criticism for a lucrative consultancy with Deloitte, with accusations of a conflict of interest over defence contracts awarded to the company.

DAVID MORRISON: If Deloitte was given a contract when I was the chief of army, it had no sign-off by me that I can recall.

It was managed as you would expect in a huge organisation like the army, at various levels below me.

I completely, completely reject - and take this opportunity to do so - completely reject any allegations that I would in any way, shape or form have seen my job as the chief of army compromised by such unethical behaviour, it did not occur.

ANDREW GREENE: But perhaps the strongest criticism of David Morrison has come from a former lieutenant colonel who was caught up in the so called "Jedi Council" sex scandal.

Like many of his colleagues, the soldier known only as "Karl" was cleared of involvement in the affair, but was later demoted. He says the ordeal has left him feeling suicidal and in psychiatric care.

Speaking to Sydney Radio 2GB two weeks ago, Karl described his reaction on the night he learnt that the man who had punished him had just been named the 2016 Australian of the Year.

KARL: I'm not going to lie to you, I think I shed a bit of a tear, I drunk about 20 Coopers sparkling beers, and my mother-in-law found me barely alive, I think.

So yeah, that is a night I want to forget.

ANDREW GREENE: So does General Morrison have a message for "Karl"?

DAVID MORRISON: No, I don't have a message for anybody, not in that respect.

What was done when I was the chief of army was done with, was certainly done with great, well, considerable anguish on my part as to what the effects would be, but I have absolutely no comment to make.

ANDREW GREENE: Will you try and reach out to some of those people?

DAVID MORRISON: No, no I won't be. I won't be reaching out to those individuals.

I've got a tenure as the Australian of the Year in 2016 and I will be in as many places that can be doing what work I can do.

ANDREW GREENE: Do they deserve an explanation?

DAVID MORRISON: I'm not going to go into it, I’m making no comment.

MARK COLVIN: The former army chief and Australian of the Year, David Morrison, speaking to Andrew Greene.