GOOD NEWS – RCB Review Group to meet with Minister Darren Chester

Persistence, Perseverance and Patience.

The Minister has agreed to meet with the RCB RG in Canberra on the 26th and the 27th November 2018. The first meeting is with the Minister’s Defence Advisor and Defence Department staff  and the second meeting with the Minister.

The RG in all its submission since 2006 has sought such a personal meeting without success: the government preferring to communicate in writing.

We thank the Minister and look forward to the meetings.

RCB E-News Update – 3/2018

Since the last Update the Review Team has been actively involved in further evidence discoveries and representations to the Government’s House of Representatives Petitions Committee, complaint and appeal to the Defence Ombudsman, letters to all Parliamentarians and meetings with Sen Jim Molan, Sen Fraser Anning and other Senators including a chance encounter with Minister Darren Chester.

Defence has bunkered down to behind a wall of silence ignoring our demands for an independent-of- Government public inquiry.
Yet there are cracks appearing from two sources: firstly, Minister Chester has agreed to a meeting with the Team and secondly, the Katter Australian Party leader Bob Katter’s public announcement supports RCB recognition as warlike.

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RCB UPDATE 3 20181030

Chaplain Gary Stone Speaks out on Recognition of RCB Service 1970-1989

As a veteran of almost 48 yrs military service, the last 24 of which I served as a Chaplain , I must raise my grave concerns about the morality of the treatment of our veterans by ADF and Government officials in their continuing rejection of the substantive evidence being presented by the RCB Review Group in their case for recognition of warlike service.

In my 4 years of training at RMC Duntroon, I was grounded in the need in public service, for uncompromising integrity, and the reality that sometimes oversights and mistakes are made because of inadequate or insufficient information, and the need for these to be corrected. There are plenty of precedents of recognition being granted belatedly, and the previously Secret evidence now available in relation to RCB, should provide scope for this case to be considered anew.

But it is not.
As this case goes on, what seems clear is that advisors and public servants are deliberately ignoring evidence and giving bad advice and recommendations to senior ADF officers and Ministers.
Some might construe this as a cover up of earlier mistakes. Nevertheless, we are now at a point where litigation may be required to correct the injustices felt by the members who served at RCB.
At the very least, a group of more than 10,000 veterans is experiencing unnecessary stress and dismay at the unjust way in which they are being treated.
Australians rightly expect to be given a fair go and fair hearing, and these veterans will not stop in their pleading until justice is granted them.
They have now seen The Defence Committee Minutes of 11 Jan 1973, and other official documents confirming irrefutably that this was an operational deployment to protect RAAF personnel and assets at Air Base Butterworth when a war was being fought from this base against communist insurgents.

We did no training with the Malaysians. We were totally focussed on defence of the airbase, and reacting to any communist incursions.
But of course the veterans already knew this, from briefings on the Air Base and from being “Warned for Active Service” before they deployed. Many were Vietnam or Borneo Veterans who have given testimony that their service in Butterworth met the requirements that saw them given Active Service recognition in earlier conflicts.

Others like me, an Infantry Platoon Commander at Butterworth in 1974-75 went on to serve in other conflicts ( in my case 6 other operational theatres) and subsequently got recognition for warlike service for similar service as at Butterworth.

But this case should stand or fall on evidence, rather than subjective opinions and the full evidence now needs to be considered, and the mistakes of the past need to be corrected.

What was a simple nature of service claim has now become also a case for ethical conduct or misconduct, which will have wider ramifications for Government and officials than recognising the faithful service of some patriotic veterans.
I would hope that those desiring an ethical consideration of this case will now act appropriately .
Yours Sincerely

Gary Stone
President Veterans Care Association

RCB Service Recognition – Senator Anning’s Questions to Marise Payne

In the Senate Question Time yesterday, 18th September, Senator  Fraser Anning  (Katter’ s Australian Party) asked  Sen. Marise Payne three questions on RCB Service recognition as warlike during the Malaysian Counter Insurgency War.

We thank Senator Anning for his support. He has read the evidence and is championing our claim for an independent inquiry

You can watch the event here:

A challenge to  the accuracy of Senator Payne’s answers is being prepared by the RCB Review Group. Until we present that challenge we ask our supporters to keep calm.

Senate Questions on Notice 9 – RCB Recognition of Service

Senator Brian Burston  (PHONP) presented Questions On Notice re RCB submissions to the Defence Minister, Sen, Marisse Payne on 15th December 2017. The answers from the Department of Defence were provided by Sen. Mathais Cormann (in the Minister’s absence) in the Senate in February 2018

There are ten questions and answers. Each day hereafter we will post one of those questions and the answer  with our response to the answer.

Question 9 – Sen. Burston (PHONP)

Why was Minister Billson’s determination to Grade RCB as “hazardous service” in 2006 not implemented prior to, or after, the change of government in 2007? 

 

Answer 9. Sen. Cormann for Sen. Payne

As a result of a number of representations on 18th September 2007 the them Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence declared that the service of Rifle Company Butterworth should be retrospectively reclassified as either hazardous or non-warlike service.

In 2009 it was found that the instruments had omitted RAAF security personnel. contained incorrect dates, omitted key references and were not registered in the Federal Register of Legislative instruments. In response to the continuing campaign conducted by ex RCB members seeking war-like service, a new review from first principles comprehensively investigated RCB service since inception, locating Government files and documents that were never considered in the 2007 review. 

The 2011 review was not supportive of the classification of RCB services as anything other than peacetime service.

On 21 March 2012 the then Parliamentary Secretary for Defence recommended that the nature of all ADF service at Butterworth should remain as peacetime from 12 August 1966 to the present. A detailed explanation of this decision was provided to the Chairman of the RCB Review Group in a letter dated 19 May 2012. This decision is consistent with the long-standing Government determination that the nature of service of all ADF service at the end of confrontation is peacetime.

RCB Review Group Response to the Answer 9.

RCB Logo SML

The Government response claims that Defence conducted a comprehensive review in 2009 (which it failed to include the RCB Review Group in), claiming to find new material not considered in their 2007 determination.  Why were we not notified and included in that Review?

Unsurprisingly, this led to the same result – non-recommendation of war-like service. The overturning of ex-Minister’s Billson’s decision, because it had not been processed, was a very opportune chance for the government (again on ‘advice’ from Defence), to ‘situate the appreciation’, therefore nullifying a Ministerial decision through an administrative fiat. This latest response to the Question again is another case of stubborn refusal to right a wrong.

RCB E-NEWS UPDATE – 1/2018

This is the first of our e-news updates. It aims to keep you informed of the facts and progress towards our RCB service objective to be recognised as warlike. The Government maintains the service is peacetime despite overwhelming evidence discovered and presented by us to Governments that proves a deliberate deception.

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RCB E-news april 2018 UPDATE final 20180408Apr

RCB’s Claim for Warlike Service Classification 1970-1989 – The Air Force Association calls on the PM for an independent examination.

In its letter to the Prime Minister, The Air Force Association believes “there is a compelling argument supporting an upgrade of the company’s service classification…. Consequently, …. the Air Force Association strongly requests the RCB’s deployment be examined by an independent body to determine the correct service classification.”

Letter Prime Minister – Rifle Company Butterworth Malaysia

Claims Defence lied to Riverina veterans refuted

The Department of Defence has hit back at claims it lied to former soldiers across the Riverina.

It comes after army veteran Bob Bak said the government had incorrectly labelled the military service of almost 9000 men during an overseas operation.

But, reports containing details the operation at RAAF Butterworth Air Base between 1970 and 1989, have since revealed this was inaccurate.

As a result, veterans say they have been stripped of a deserved “war-like service” recognition and its associated entitlements. They have since called for a public inquiry into the matter.

Despite these claims, the Department of Defence last week said Australian Defence Force service at Butterworth had been examined across several independent reviews, that found it to be peace-time service.

“Defence has responded to a number of claims for reclassification of Rifle Company Butterworth service,” a statement read.

“These claims were investigated through extensive research of available records … and found personnel were not engaged in duty relating to warlike operations.”

A department spokesperson said the role of the company was to provide a ground presence, to conduct training and to assist, if required, in the protection of assets.

“Unless authorised, (the company) was not to be involved in local civil disturbances or … security operations outside (base),” the spokesperson said.

ENDS

 RCB Review Group’s comments on Defence’s rebuttal above and previous rebuttals

Our rebuttal of Defence statements made by the then Minister Stuart Robert and his staff at the House of Representatives Petition Committee in 2014 can be seen here

The Government did not respond to that document

Following that, two letters were sent to PM Turnbull seeking his personal intervention and if declined then to appoint an independent (of Government)  inquiry. Neither was  given.

We re-presented  all of the entire evidence  discovered after 2011 to the Defence Department for their consideration. We challenged their response that there was no new evidence since 2011.   Another deception

In our submissions we asked to meet with the Ministers’ officers to discuss  the new evidence supporting our claim. We are still waiting.

Now that the MPs are this week back in their electorates it is a good time to visit them. We expect that the Defence Department will have prepared a letter for the MPs to respond to the letters we sent to  all the MPs and Senators.  Send us a copy of their letter please so we can guide your reply.
Robert Cross

OPINION – New Minister has a Job to Do

TOWNSVILLE should be a priority destination for recently appointed Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael McCormack.

McCormack represents the NSW seat Riverina for the National Party, with his electorate office in Wagga Wagga. Wagga is perhaps best known as the location of the army’s recruit training battalion at Kapooka, also known as Home of the Soldier.

Since McCormack is now also Minister for Defence Personnel he is ideally placed with local RAAF and army personnel to understand the issues faced by itinerant defence families.
He should bring to his dual portfolios some sympathy for the plight of those serving and those who have left the service for whatever reason.

While the affable Dan Tehan made the right noises, many veterans remain disappointed with his inaction on issues such as the ADF’s flawed mefloquine and tafenoquine antimalarial drug trials. This is a major issue for those affected.

Townsville has a significant concentration of veterans suffering the adverse consequences of mefloquine and tafenoquine poisoning yet DVA seemingly on ADF advice insists there is no problem.

To be fair to Tehan, any minister depends on the advice of specialists in the ministries they head.
The same applies to ministerial staff who often believe their prime function is to protect the reputation of their minister and the Government rather than offer frank and fearless advice on behalf of affected constituents.
When that advice is flawed or biased then a minister’s advice is equally biased and flawed.

McCormack could make an early mark by listening to people like Townsville-based veterans John Caligari and Ray Martin who continue to fight for the soldiers they once led, understanding command is a lifelong responsibility.

He should also talk with the wives and partners who struggle to understand why someone they love can return so damaged from operational service and who are then expected to pick up the pieces to keep their relationships and families intact.

McCormack could also make a mark by insisting faceless bureaucrats explain why awards should be granted to those who feel their service has gone unrecognised rather than accept their flawed advice as to why they should not.

Yes Minister

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RARA endorses RCB service claim as warlike

In a letter to the PM in January 2016, the RARA National President Michael von Berg MC OAM endorsed the RCB’s claim for warlike service. ” ….it is our contention that the facts surrounding the reasons for the RCB deployment has been a subterfuge to overcome the Labor Government’s dilemma to apply its electoral mandate to return all overseas troops and yet retain a strategic presence at Butterworth. This was achieved by deception to disguise the deployment for training purposes to the Australian public”

Read the full text.
20160121 RARC letter to the PM