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The tragic loss of Leading Seaman Gurr.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

19 September 2002


I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the family of Leading Seaman Cameron Gurr, lost overboard from the HMAS Darwin in early May this year.

The release this week of the findings of the Board of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding LS Gurr’s death provides another opportunity for Australians to pay our respects to this sailor.

Any preventable tragedy provides a trigger for people to reflect on what could have been done to avert it.

In this case, the Board of Inquiry made one particularly concerning finding, namely that there was a failure at the middle management level in the chain of command on HMAS Darwin to prevent illicit drinking by junior sailors.

It suggests a culture in which the breaking of important rules was accepted.

Given the Howard Government’s past record of secretiveness about investigations conducted under the Defence Force Discipline Act, it is imperative that the Government guarantees full disclosure on the outcome of the nine investigations arising from the Board’s findings that are currently taking place.

Central to the concept of justice in the ADF specifically and our society generally is consistency and transparency.

The community has concerns that these standards are not being met in relation to the treatment of alleged misconduct and crimes in the ADF.

This concern is heightened by the Government’s failure to introduce the necessary legislation to establish a Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP).

The DMP would go a long way toward addressing public concerns, and ensuring that investigations and prosecutions are conducted fairly and consistently.

Meanwhile the Australian Defence Force and the Australian people need to be reassured that all the measures proposed by the Board to address alcohol abuse will be fully implemented.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617