Blaming China for Abbott’s inexcusable dumping of the Pacific Islands. How easliy forgotten. Abbott dropped the ball and the ADF did too. Breach of trust. (ODT)
Defence chief Mark Binskin says Beijing’s broken promise not to militarise the South China Sea means it has squandered the trust of its neighbours and undermined its aspirations to regional leadership.
In his final interview before he hands over command of the 80,000-strong Australian Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Binskin also urged countries such as China that are moving into the South Pacific: “Don’t destabilise the region.”
One might well ask whether the third investigation commissioned too investigate the other two is intended to be a government whitewash given Irvine was Australia’s former spy chief. (ODT)
SASR sources claim the man with the prosthetic leg was machine-gunned by a soldier that, for legal reasons, Fairfax Media will call “Leonidas”.
Leonidas is also implicated in the killing of a detainee three years later in September 2012 during a SASR mission in the village of Darwan. Leonidas allegedly kicked handcuffed detainee Ali Jan off the edge of a small cliff, badly injuring his face, according to claims of two Defence Force insiders who witnessed the event.
As the detainee lay injured, hands still bound, the two witnesses say Leonidas was party to the decision among soldiers to “get him out of his misery”. The claims have been backed by the relatives of Ali Jan who were interviewed this week by an Afghan journalist on assignment with Fairfax Media.
Fairfax Media has confirmed the Irvine inquiry was commissioned by army chiefs earlier this year amid concerns raised in leaked defence reports of an entrenched culture of impunity within the nation’s Special Operations Task Group.
It is the third investigation into the special forces to be launched in two years.
Abbott’s ABC Tax Cuts destroyed Radio Australia’s over 75 year connection with the Pacific. Now there’s a need to reverse his decision at greater cost.
Beyond such environmental challenges, the prospect of increased power contestation is focusing the minds of security policymakers on the importance of bolstering ties in places like Vanuatu, Tonga and Fiji. Partly in response, the Pacific patrol boat program is being revamped. Australia is supplying a fleet of new patrol boats with associated training, logistics and other related support included.
Defence force research finds 80% of participants believe Islam promotes violence – climbing to 91% if they have had sensitivity training
Defence department figures reveal ‘tactical payment scheme’ paid an average of $73 an incident for ‘collateral damage to property, injury or loss of life’
The Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) has expressed doubts over whether Kevin Andrews will be the sort of “energetic, capable, and competent” minister the Defence Department needs.
The appointment of Mr Andrews to the senior and complex role of Defence Minister was one of the biggest shocks in the Prime Minister’s pre-Christmas reshuffle.
Tony Abbott said Mr Andrews was “a very safe pair of hands” who had his utmost respect.
But the DFWA said that sounded like the Prime Minister wanted defence to be “out of sight and out of mind”.
“If the Prime Minister himself describes Kevin Andrews as a safe pair of hands, it raises question marks in my own mind, ” DFWA national president David Jamison told the ABC’s AM program.
“We’re looking for an energetic, capable, competent minister who can get a grip of the department, who can develop and manage defence policy and defence industry policy for the good of the country, and to make sure that the money that we’re spending on defence is actually producing a good capability, and is being used to ensure the conditions for our service men and women are the best that they can be.”
Cost of living pressures up for discussion
Mr Jamison said the DFWA would be pressing Mr Andrews to review a decision taken in December to increase charges like rent, accommodation and meals.
For some Australian Defence Force (ADF) members charges have gone up by between 2.5 per cent and 4.2 per cent, while their annual pay increase was 1.5 per cent.
“We cannot let that stand, we need to ensure the Government treats our defence people with the respect and consideration that being a member of the ADF should attract, and at the moment we’re not getting that,” Mr Jamison said.
The DWFA plans to meet Mr Andrews in the new year.
“He’ll be going through a series of briefings, when we get to see him we need him to have an understanding of the department, the issues and the challenges he’s got, because we’ll be asking him to address a range of those from our perspective, and to ensure he brings the department into the 21st century,” Mr Jamison said.
The DFWA urged the new minister to develop an overall strategy for updating weapons and security, rather than focusing on individual projects in isolation.
New minister will not change defence direction: analyst
The Government is developing a new, long-term strategic document, known as a defence white paper, and one analyst does not believe the change of minister will drive a different direction.
“Defence white papers tend to be the products of governments, and it’s not unusual, for conservative governments in particular, that the Prime Minister takes a very deep interest in the development of a defence white paper,” Andrew Davies, the senior analyst for military capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told AM.
He has been closely monitoring the Government’s project to procure a fleet of new submarines, and does not expect dramatic changes there either.
“I wouldn’t have thought a change of minister would have a big impact on the future submarine project because I think the Government has its preferred option anyway, which is a deal with Japan,” Mr Davies said.
“The most likely reason that we haven’t seen an announcement yet is that all of the issues that need to be resolved to lock in a deal with Japan, or alternatively to run a competition between the European suppliers, just haven’t been resolved yet.
“And I think the snap election that was called in Japan towards the end of the year probably put that process on hold, so I think it’s more likely external rather than internal factors.”
Tony Abbott was due to meet with Lambie on the pay issue on Monday, but that meeting has been postponed.
Prime minister says decision not to proceed with changes to defence personnel allowances and entitlements was result of discussion with backbench
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has announced that changes to defence allowances will not go ahead, but insists the backdown came after discussions with his backbench, rather than the intense lobbying of newly-independent senator Jacqui Lambie.
“We are not going to proceed with those changes to allowances. I want to acknowledge that we are listening to the defence community on this subject,” Abbott told reporters on Monday.
“I have discussed this matter with a number of my parliamentary colleagues, such as Jane Prentice, Ewen Jones, Natasha Griggs and Teresa Gambaro, because they represent seats that have the very large defence component.
“They have lots of defence personnel as their constituents and they certainly have been letting me know that it was important to offer this concession to our defence force personnel given the burdens they carry for all of us,” he said.
Defence personnel stood to lose a number of allowances and entitlements, including a component of Christmas leave and food and travel entitlements, in exchange for a 1.5% pay increase under a deal announced last month. The increase is below inflation and amounts to a cut in real terms.
Abbott rejected the idea that the backflip on allowances was a sweetener for Lambie, who left the Palmer United party (PUP) after vowing to vote down all government legislation in the Senate until a better pay deal was offered to defence personnel.
“We haven’t been able to meet all of her requests and, frankly, this government is not in the business of listening to each and every member of the crossbench in the Senate and saying ‘Of course, you can have what you want’. We’re in the business of doing what we think is best under the circumstances in which we find ourselves,” Abbott said.
Monday is the last day that the government can revise its pay offer with the Defence Force remuneration tribunal. Lambie was due to meet with Abbott on the pay issue on Monday, but that meeting has been postponed.
“I’m actually really disappointed, to be honest,” Lambie said, adding that no reason was given as to why the meeting was delayed and no alternative date had been offered.
She is not impressed with Abbott’s concession on allowances.
“That’s not good enough. He knows what needs to be done and that’s a 3% [pay increase] and all their recreation leave returned to them over the Christmas period.
“That’s another slap in the face, and completely disrespectful to the men and women who wear the uniform.
“It is taking things back to the status quo before the pay rise was announced a couple of weeks ago,” vice president of the Defence Force welfare association, Les Bienkiewicz, told ABC TV.
“The allowances and leave entitlements should never have been traded off any pay increase. It is a nonsense to suggest these so-called productivity increases would pay for a pay rise.”
Bienkiewicz has pledged to keep lobbying the government to increase the pay offer.
“We think it’s letting down the members of the ADF. The members of the ADF aren’t out to make a lot of money when they serve in the ADF but they do expect to be treated fairly. We believe that a fair pay rise would be something in the order of 3% to keep up with CPI and the the cost of living; 1.5% is totally inadequate,” he said.
A petition containing 60,000 signatures was handed to politicians at parliament house on Monday morning, calling for the government to boost its pay offer.
The top eschelons of the Iraqi army removed. Why would that be to make way for Abbot’s advisers? For security reasons? Nobody can really be sure. Abbott hasn’t a clue. How safe is this deployment that has been accused of having been overpaid?
FOREIGN minister Julie Bishop has reached a deal with Baghdad for the deployment of about 200 special forces to assist Iraqi troops in their fight against jihadists.
Ms Bishop told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday that she had hammered out a deal allowing Australian commandos who have been waiting in the United Arab Emirates, to deploy to Iraq.
Ms Bishop also reiterated that Australian forces would be deployed in an advisory capacity and that Canberra had no plans to send ground troops to fight alongside Iraqi forces.
Where is $500M going to be spent? Not on 8 aircraft and 200 advisers that’s for sure and not if we are charging the Iraqi government for the job.
The tribunal has adjourned to consider the Government’s proposal for servicemen and women to receive a pay increase of 1.5 per cent a year for three years, which is less than the current inflation rate.
Les Bieniewicz from the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) said his association made it clear to the tribunal the deal was below inflation and some personnel would be suffering a wages cut.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was a reality of Labor’s debt.
“When you’re in a situation of $50 billion deficit you cannot be as generous as you are when you’re in a situation of $20 billion surplus,” Mr Abbott said.
“At the moment, we are simply borrowing money to pay people. That is why it is important that we have very significant pay restraint.”
ISIS effect: Terrified Iraqi soldiers bribing superiors to leave army
IRAQI soldiers are so terrified by the brutality of the Islamic State that they are now paying their superiors to allow them to leave the military.
The acts of bribery, known locally as the “astronaut phenomenon”, have grown so rampant that at times, nearly half of a platoon will be missing when called into battle, according to the Daily Beast.
The name comes from the idea that once a soldier abdicates his duties, he is in space, away from the world while it crumbles under war.
Officers are often paid full salaries to let soldiers quit and make sure the absence goes unreported.
Iraqi officer Kadhim al-Shammari told the Beast, “The astronaut phenomenon is destroying the Iraqi army. There are senior officers who are making deals with dozens of their men, giving them vacations for months in return for part or all of the men’s salaries.”