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Government must support CDF on military justice.

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Senator Mark Bishop Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, Procurement and Personnel Senator for Western Australia

Government Must Support CDF on Military Justice

The commitment of the new CDF Air Chief Marshal Houston to stamp out bullying and harassment is a welcome relief for all those ADF personnel who have suffered through a hopelessly incompetent system of military justice, and their families - for some of whom it's too late already.

But the reform must be complete and extend to every facet, not just bullying and harassment.

History clearly shows that the existing institutional structure and processes is incapable of change of its own volition. Circumstances are becoming worse, not better. A decade of recommended reform has been ignored.

To do this ACM Houston will need the full force of the Government and the Parliament - there is now no alternative.

To date there has been no accountability, as compromise, cover up and delay confounds the system, destroys careers - and costs lives.

We can no longer tolerate the ADF's reputation to suffer. In fact if nothing is done, Australia's young men and women simply will not enlist.

To do this reform must be root and branch and should follow the recommendations of the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee.

The entire culture needs to be changed by radical means.

Responsibility for the investigation of all grievances and breaches of military and civilian law must be taken out of the hands of the hierarchy of command.

The rules of natural justice and a fair go should apply to the ADF like any other part of a democratic society.

Having taken the initiative with the Senate report, Labor will not let up until total reform is undertaken - and as a matter of urgency. All outstanding cases need to be reviewed and justice delivered.

The Government is quick to use our military personnel for its own promotion, but has shown total unwillingness to remove the cancer which threatens to destroy it. The image needs to be honoured.

Media Details: Senator Mark Bishop 0419 959 892 or Peter Reece 0414 677 441 Parliament House (02) 6277 3101

Date 5 July 2005