The Govt promises to release Navy sex scandal


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25-01-2011 08:03 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


25-01-2011 08:03 AM



25-01-2011 08:43 AM

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2011-01-25 08:03:29

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CAVE, Peter


SMITH, Stephen, MP

KIRK, Alexandra


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The Govt promises to release Navy sex scandal -

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The chief of the Defence Force has released a short statement about a commission of inquiry report
into an alleged navy sex scandal in 2009 involving crew from HMAS Success. Air Chief Marshal Angus
Houston says the report raises "very serious issues" about individual accountability and 'broader
cultural and institutional issues'. The Defence Minister, Stephen Smith also has a copy of the
report and he's told AM that he hopes to publicly release it soon.

PETER CAVE: The chief of the Defence Force has received the first report from a commission of
inquiry he ordered almost a year ago into an alleged Navy sex scandal in 2009 involving crew from
HMAS Success.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston has released a short statement saying it's clear to him, on his
very quick review, that the report raises "very serious issues" about individual accountability and
"broader cultural and institutional issues".

He says it will take time to analyse the detailed findings of the 400 page report.

The report is also in the hands of the Defence Minister, Stephen Smith. He's joined us, and he's
speaking to Alexandra Kirk.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Smith, good morning.

STEPHEN SMITH: Good morning Alex.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Before we discuss the report's findings, if we can first go to the breaking news of
the Moscow bombing. How concerned are you that terrorists are hitting major airports?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well we know that terrorism or extreme acts of violence are regrettably, a terrible
factor or modern life and that's why the Australian Government and the international community do
everything they can to minimise the chance that these terrible events occur.

But in the first instance of this matter, we are of course primarily concerned about any adverse
consequences for Australians and our officials in Moscow are very urgently trying to make sure that
no Australians have been caught up in this terrible atrocity.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Have you been able to find out if any Australians have been caught up?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well at this stage no. Obviously we condemn absolutely this terrible act. It's an
act of extremism and of violence and we have of course great sympathy and condolence for the
families of the victims and for the Russian people.

But our officials are not just in contact with officials in Russia but also making contact with the
local hospitals, doing our best to satisfy ourselves that no Australians have been caught up. It's
very early days.

Anyone of course who had a friend or a relative who was in Russia at time, they can of course make
direct contact and if they can't make direct contact with the people concerned they should let our
consular officials know.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You've just received a 400 page report into alleged sexual misconduct on HMAS
Success in 2009. The incidents have been described as centring around a predatory culture of
coercing junior female sailors into having sex, with allegations that sailors kept a sex ledger and
allegations of a long running culture of bullying aboard the ship.

The Defence Chief, Angus Houston, says it's up to you whether the report is made public. Will you
release it?

STEPHEN SMITH: I propose to release it but I have to be careful and sensible about that. There are
a number of issues. Firstly there are issues of individual, personal conduct and accountability.
Individuals concerned of course have rights of process, so I need to be very careful not to in
anything that I authorise to be publish, trample on anyone's rights of due process.

But there are broader issues of culture and also institutional issues. They go to discipline in the
Navy, they go to a so-called tribal culture on the Success itself and potentially more generally.
But also some institutional questions about the way in which Defence conducts these commissions of
enquiry, investigates matters, and they'll be the subject of a second report from commissioner

But I want to be as transparent as humanly possible and that's why I'm proposing to make what I've
received from the Chief via commissioner Giles, public as soon as I can in as comprehensive a
manner as I can.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: When will that be then?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well we've also, my predecessor John Faulkner, my predecessor as minister gave an
undertaking to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence - that that committee would be
kept fully informed.

The Parliament comes back in a week or so as you know, I'd like very much to be in a position to
make the material public to assist the deliberations of that Senate Committee.

So I'm thinking in terms of a matter of weeks, but the most important thing is not to do anything
which would prejudice the rights of individuals concerned. It's a very concerning report.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: What's the main finding?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well I'm not proposing to go into that. That will become clear when I release this
first part of it. But to blunt about it, it doesn't make good reading, either about the individual
- the suggestions of individual conduct nor the suggestions of discipline nor the suggestions of a
particular type of culture.

To its credit the Navy, not only the Chief of Navy but the Chief of the Defence Force and the
command structure down have zero tolerance for such unacceptable behaviour. The Chief of Navy
instituted a new generation Navy program in 2009. We're very pleased with the progress that's

So we very much have a no tolerance approach for the sorts of behaviour that we've seen referred to
but we do need to be very careful and deliberative about the way in which we make commissioner
Giles's report public.

But it is important we are transparent and I'm proposing to do that as soon as I can.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Time and time again, successive Defence chiefs and ministers have said that they
would be stamping out unacceptable behaviour. It's still going on, last night the Seven Network
aired allegations of bastardisation. Can you ever stamp it out?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well we certainly have a zero tolerance attitude to it, but in the end we're dealing
with human beings and like all of us we have faults. What we do want to do is to do our best to
minimise those and do our best to make sure it doesn't become part of an institutional part of

And we want our Defence Force - whichever stream it is, Navy, Air Force or Army - to treat each
other with civility and dignity. But yes we do have bad examples from time to time. The one you
referred to aired last night, allegations, they will be exhaustively investigated.

But we want people in the services to treat their colleagues with respect, with civility and
dignity and that's the way in which the Australian Defence Force and its personnel have built up
over a long period of time a first class international reputation for the way in which it conducts
itself and we want that standard to continue.

But it's not all bad news. We have, for example, very good news about the way in which Navy
personnel conducted themselves in the recent rescue off Christmas Island. So yes, we get bad
examples from time to time but we also get regular examples of very good work and great heroism,
whether it's Christmas Island rescue or the Queensland or Victoria floods.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Minister, we'll have to leave it there. Thankyou very much for joining AM.

STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks Alex, thanks very much.

PETER CAVE: The Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, speaking there to Alexandra Kirk.