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Government must provide justice for the military.

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Mark Bishop Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, Procurement and Personnel

19 July 2005


Government Must Provide Justice for the Military

The terrible saga revealed on the ABC's 7.30 Report last night is another tragic example of what's wrong with military justice and why the Senate report recommendations must be implemented.

Lt Commander Robyn Fahy has been suspended from duty now for five years on full pay as the system failed to provide adequate redress or any satisfactory remedy at all.

Sadly, the only recourse available is to sue the Government, and as history shows, that's expensive and would be stiffly resisted.

Lt Commander Fahy's case illustrates just how resistant the current system is to providing justice or any fair process

! A medical assessment was obtained by falsification of information and the use of hearsay - for which the medical practitioner was found guilty of malpractice

! The process of medical assessment was not revealed to the victim, and there was no redress

! An internal review was regarded as a whitewash

! Defence have withdrawn from a HREOC conciliation process, and have also withdrawn a minor offer of compensation

! The process has now been on foot for five years

! An external tribunal ( Medical Board of WA ) had to be accessed for redress of malpractice against another naval officer

! No legal assistance has been provided of any value to the victim

! Despite findings of malpractice, Defence paid all the medical practitioner's legal fees of $377,000, as well as a further $60,000 payment of the Medical Board of WA’s costs, as ordered. The medical practitioner paid a fine of $10,000.

! There is no review process except 'Caesar unto Caesar'

! Legitimate grievance was ignored or not investigated

! Privacy has been totally breached

! The existing structure, including the Defence Ombudsman has been ineffective.

This is an indictment of the system where all the findings of the Senate Committee report are relevant. Even resort to external processes has been thwarted, and there is no justice to be had within the military system.

The current system of military justice must be changed, root and branch, and justice must be brought to all those who have suffered such a cruel fate as Lt Commander Fahy.