Topic

defence force

11 petitions

This petition won 5 months ago

Petition to Scott Morrison, Linda Reynolds

Award Teddy Sheean the VC as Recommended by the Tribunal

In July 2019 the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal unanimously recommended to the federal government the award of Australia's highest military honour to Tasmanian Teddy Sheean - the Victoria Cross, also known as the VC. This was the very first time in its history that the tribunal has recommended the award of a VC. But on 13 May 2020 the federal government decided not to accept the recommendation.  This is a travesty. Teddy Sheean is a hero and the government should accept the recommendation of its own panel of experts. Sheean was just 18 years old when he left his home in north-west Tasmania to join the Navy and fight in World War II. He died defending HMAS Armidale from Japanese warplanes off the coast of what is now known as East Timor, only one year after he enlisted. With the ship going down, the wounded young sailor strapped himself to an anti-aircraft cannon and fired at the attacking planes. He is credited with helping save 49 of his ship's crew before he went down with the ship. The Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal was established to independently consider honours and awards outside of the Australian Defence Force. Its members include lawyers, historian and veterans. It is unacceptable and un-Australian that the government would ignore its own panel of experts and deny a young hero the recognition he deserves. Brigadier (retired) Kevin O'Brien, CSC 

Kevin O’Brien
24,392 supporters
This petition won 2 years ago

Petition to Linda Reynolds, Darren Chester, Governor General of Australia

“Great bravery in extreme danger” yet denied awards due to “maladministration”!

Following the extensive media articles published on the 24th and 25th September 2017, the Australian public and the national press asked the Governor General to intervene in the matter of the recognition of the bravery for two diggers, Captain Tony Gilchrist and Sergeant Andy Street, who risked their lives on over 180 deadly missions in Iraq in 2005. To date, neither Tony or Andy have heard anything from the Department of Defence or the Governor General. Street and Gilchrist were denied gallantry awards despite the evidence of their outstanding bravery provided from the British and US military, the FBI, Australian Commanders and other key witnesses, one of which was their ‘boss’ in Iraq, Pete Norton GC. Norton was awarded the George Cross for his work alongside Street and Gilchrist. He is the current Chair of the exclusive Victoria Cross and George Cross Association whose members includes the likes of Keith Payne VC and Ben Roberts-Smith VC. Norton knows exactly what constitutes gallantry and bravery in combat. Even the Australian Defence Force’s own Honours and Awards Directorate agreed that both Gilchrist and Street deserved recognition for gallantry. Instead, both men were given somewhat token awards for ‘distinguished service’, identical to those awards given to ADF members deployed in training, administration positions and those in command who do not see combat. The acts of digging by hand for booby-trap explosive devices, searching for bomb components amongst the bodies of 150 civilians killed in a single terrorist atrocity, hunting through crowds for a second suicide bomber immediately after a suicide attack and surviving multiple attempts on their lives including RPGs, buried IEDs, snipers and mortars were just a few of the acts of bravery well above and well beyond that expected of a distinguished service award recipient. This lack of understanding of the roles of Street and Gilchrist in Iraq forced both men to appeal for a review of their service and possibly be considered for gallantry awards. The review process took nearly 10 years through the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal (DHAAT). The DHAAT were entirely responsible for the denial of gallantry awards for Andy and Tony. The Tribunal ignored over 1,300 pages of written evidence and oral and written statements given by actual witnesses who served alongside both men in the US-led Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell (CEXC). The Tribunal (which then, and still to this day, contains no member with similar operational ‘on-the-ground’ experience nor any gallantry awards), overruled witness accounts that recommended that Street and Gilchrist deserved medals of gallantry during their time as the “Baghdad bomb-hunters”. The Tribunal ignored the oral evidence provided from Australian Commanders in charge of all Australian troops deployed in the Middle East at the time of Street and Gilchrist’s deployment. Other witness statements that were dismissed were from fellow members of Andy and Tony’s ten-man patrol team, whose UK and US members were awarded a George Cross, a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery, a Mention in Dispatches, a Bronze Star, two FBI Shields of Bravery and a FBI Medal of Valour between them. Inexplicably, the Tribunal produced a single, handwritten, unofficial note allegedly written by a high-ranking ‘Australian General’ - with no connection to the men or their unit - that they used to justify the denial of awards. Surprisingly, as the media reports were quick to recognise, the DHAAT reported that they could not identify what constitutes gallantry! So why did they ignore the testimony of the likes of Norton - a soldier awarded the very highest medal for gallantry? ALL the witnesses had much more operational experience of bravery than the entire board of the DHAAT. This is surely not to be ignored when the Tribunal could not even identify what gallantry was? Following the ‘bizarre’ decision of the DHAAT, Street and Gilchrist approached those agencies that are charged with overseeing the conduct of Government organisations such as DHAAT. The Office of the Inspector-General ADF, the Defence Ombudsman, the Directorate of Investigations and Recovery and the Defence Public Interest Disclosure unit were apparently unable to investigate the Tribunal’s decision, citing that the DHAAT was freely able to make decisions that are “…functus officio in respect of this [DHAAT] review, and [they] cannot legally amend or revise this decision…”. This apparent impunity means that the DHAAT is untouchable, despite clear evidence that the Tribunal members may have omitted key information, ignored witnesses, or were subject to external influences in their decision-making process. For example, undisclosed links between the Tribunal board members and the previously mentioned ‘Australian General’ subsequently came to light which questioned the very independence of the Tribunal when it came to Gilchrist and Street. What now? Is it right that both men give up their fight for recognition? Should these two war heroes now pursue actions against the DHAAT in a court of law? Is this even possible? In a further development, as the original Daily Telegraph article noted, Street returned his Commendation for Distinguished Service medal and Certificate to the Governor General, citing that the DHAAT report had confirmed that his medal had been awarded incorrectly due to ‘Defence maladministration’. Despite numerous letters and emails written by Street, the Tribunal and Governor General both appear to refuse to talk to each other, leaving Street frustrated and angry. There is one option left: We can officially request intervention from the Governor General – the person whom is ultimately responsible for Australian honours and awards. For this to happen we need public support. If we can raise a significant number of signatures via Change.org then an official request for a response can be sought. The Governor General is the Commander-in-Chief of the ADF and is Chancellor of the Order of Australia and therefore can make a difference. Please remember that Gilchrist and Street have tried everything they can. Their story has appeared on the front page of national newspapers, has been featured on TV’s Channel 10 News, The Project and ABC’s Four Corners. They have the support from the likes of Senator Jacqui Lambie, the FBI, the US and UK military including the Chair of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. Both men have already been accepted for gallantry awards by the Defence Honours and Awards Directorate. Gilchrist and Street were recognised by Brendon Nelson - the Director of the Australian War Memorial - as having saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives by risking their own on a daily basis. Despite this, not a single response has been issued from the Governor General, Defence or the DHAAT since the media reports of September 2017. All the Australian, British and American members of the CEXC made a promise to each other. For the men who saved each other’s lives and hundreds of others, they promised that their actions would not be unrewarded. This is our last chance to appeal to the Governor General to recognise the Australians - Tony and Andy – and their acts of gallantry, lest they are forgotten. The media reports are available here: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/hurt-locker-heroes https://www.theage.com.au/national/Baghdad-bomb-hunters https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/ieds-killed--iraq    

James Davis
1,021 supporters
Update posted 2 years ago

Petition to Darren Chester, Department of Veterans' Affairs, The Hon Darren Chester MP

Stop the banks ripping off our military to the tune of $250million

Summary: I have recently discovered that Australian banks are charging higher interest rates on home loans for military members as they are ‘subsidised by the government’ and the military ‘can’t have everything’ (phone call from NAB home loan specialist) pocketing over $250 million over the past 10 years. Sadly, military members are being ripped off by the banks, and the Minister responsible doesn’t seem to know or care! Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, The Hon Darren Chester, you must hold the banks accountable and ensure the same interest rates are made available for DHOAS and non-DHOAS loans. Banks are rorting $2 million a month, when will it stop? Please share, comment, let your military friends know. With enough people we might make a real difference for the military and their families. The detail: The Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme (DHOAS) was established by the Australian Government in July 2008 to support Australian Defence Force (ADF) members in owning their own homes, with an initial 10-year budget of $864 million. DHOAS provides a monthly subsidy to ADF members through payments towards their home loans – up to $500 / month. However, the loans must be made through one of 3 banks (National Australia Bank (NAB), Australian Military Bank and Defence Bank) which limits competition and has seen a disparity in interest rates between DHOAS loans, non-DHOAS loans at these banks and loans offered by other providers. I discovered this when negotiating a home loan rate with the NAB retentions team last week, I had a DHOAS eligible loan and a non-DHOAS eligible loan – exactly the same in all other areas. The DHOAS loan was quoted at 4.16%, while the non-DHOAS loan was 3.9%. When I queried why the DHOAS loan was higher, I was told ‘because you get subsidised by the government’, when mentioning that was not a good reason I was further told ‘well, you can’t have everything’. This variation in interest rates means that almost a third of my subsidy is lost in higher interest every year! With other banks offering even lower rates, my subsidy is almost worthless, and it all goes straight to the bank. The reality is, the banks are charging more for DHOAS loans, and skimming a portion of the subsidy for their own benefit and arrogantly declaring that because military members are getting subsidised by the government they can charge more. THIS IS NOT RIGHT! While it is hard to determine exactly how much money has been rorted from military members, here is a realistic calculation: NAB is charging at least 0.26% more interest for DHOAS (my own experience). There are on average 25000 loans each year, for the past 10 years (ANAO report). If the average home loan is $384000 (ABS) this equates to more than $250 MILLION! This means that these banks are profiting significantly off our military, and our government is letting it happen. I called DHOAS and they admit banks charge more, yet what can you do? A lot I hope! I have emailed the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, who is responsible for DHOAS, and I have had no response - hopefully this petition will get his or the media's attention. After all the issues that banks have had, especially the NAB, I am surprised that no one seems to care. Maybe it’s because the government receives commissions in return from the loan providers? ANAO notes that over the same 10-year period the banks will pay commissions near $170 MILLION… the whole process is a rort, and it’s the military members who have to deal with it. This petition is for Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, The Hon Darren Chester to hold the banks, and themselves accountable. To force the banks to provide the same interest rate for DHOAS loans as any other variable or fixed rate loan. The Hon Darren Chester MPMinister for Veterans’ AffairsMinister for Defence PersonnelMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC  PO Box 6022House of RepresentativesParliament HouseCanberra ACT 2600 Telephone:(02) 6277 7820Email: minister@dva.gov.au Please sign this petition, share it widely and if you know anyone with a DHOAS loan let them know. If you have a DHOAS loan and story to share, then please comment - the more people we can get, the greater chance we can actually get a decent subsidy.

ADF Member
364 supporters