Senator Calls for Australian of the Year to Resign
3 February 2016 at 11:28 am
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has used parliamentary privilege to call for the Australian of the Year and former head of the army, David Morrison, to resign over alleged abuse cover-ups in the Australian Defence Force.
Senator Lambie said Morrison, who is now chair of the Not for Profit Diversity Council of Australia, should resign as Australian of the Year during a speech in which she made accusations that the defence force was covering-up a number of serious incidents of abuse of its army personnel.
Senator Lambie outlined the allegations of abuse against two male former defence force members, SAS trooper Evan Donaldson and former army officer Marcus Saltmarsh who were both watching from the Senate public gallery.
She told parliament that both men had battled the Department of Defence saying they had been the “subject of extraordinary abuse of office by senior members of the Australian Army”.
She said Donaldson had been the victim of brutal sexual abuse and other assaults during secret training exercises run by the Defence Intelligence Organisation.
“Evan was bashed, bound, bagged, blindfolded, stripped naked, placed in stress positions, deprived of sleep and food for 96 hours and during that time he was sexually assaulted and left bleeding,” Senator Lambie said.
“He has been the subject of almost seven years of government investigations and the defence department had misled six defence ministers, including the current one, Marise Payne, over the case.”
Lambie said the minister’s latest compensation offer to Donaldson had been grossly inadequate.
“Trooper Donaldson made a formal complaint to the Australian Federal Police detailing corruption allegations against David Morrison and others. The Australian Federal Police refused to investigate,” she said.
She described the attacks on Marcus Saltmarsh as “spectacular and absolutely deliberate” and at the time General Morrison was aware of his department’s “attack” on Saltmarsh.
“While serving in East Timor in 2000, Mr Saltmarsh’s rifle independently discharged, accidentally killing Corporal Stuart Jones… a military court found he had no case to answer,” she said.
She said Saltmarsh suffered total permanent impairment for post-traumatic stress disorder after being sent “28 autopsy photos of his best mate” which the military denied it had sent.
“The cover-up in this matter has been at a very high level, spectacular and absolutely deliberate,” she said.
“On that point alone, Mr Morrison should resign from his Australian of the Year position, let alone the involvement he has had in SAS Trooper Donaldson’s matters and his appalling advocacy for ordinary diggers and veterans.”
Senator Lambie also called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to meet with Donaldson and former army officer Marcus Saltmarsh to hear first-hand of their battles against the department.
Morrison has been subject to criticism for receiving the Australian of the Year honour with many members of the community questioning why a white, middle-aged man was being awarded for championing diversity.