Two Sydney Morning Herald
articles this week have bought simmering discontent in the Australian
Defence Force over military justice to a boil. On Tuesday, Tom Allard
wrote: “Gross maladministration at the highest levels of the Defence
Department has been exposed in the case of Air Vice-Marshal Peter Criss
and his journey through a dysfunctional military justice system. The
air commander in the East Timor campaign was summarily removed from his
post in 2000 then denied a public apology and substantial compensation
even though a high-level inquiry ruled in his favour. In a new review
of Air Vice-Marshal Criss’s case – the third in five years – Bill
Blick, a former inspector-general of intelligence and security,
outlines breaches of Defence Department rules and outright deception…
The Defence Department refused to let him see its reasons or give him a
chance to rebut his accusers.”

There’s a breakout background story on Criss here
, and the Blick report is here

spokesman for the Defence Department said Air Vice-Marshal Criss’s case
was ‘subject of an ongoing internal process’ and declined to comment
further,” Allard wrote. “The Herald
has been unable to contact Admiral Barrie and Air Marshal McCormack or Air Vice-Marshal Criss.

Blick’s review, which he delivered last November, lays out the facts of
the case but makes no formal recommendations. However, it criticises
Admiral Barrie, Air Marshal McCormack and the then vice-chief of the
Defence Force, Lieutenant -General Des Mueller. It also identifies
disturbing irregularities.”

Military justice is currently the
subject of an inquiry by the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Committee, and you can find details of its investigations here

Have a skim of Blick and you’ll probably be disgusted. So consider this. Before The Herald’s
reporting of the Blick Report and the story behind it, the view held by
many – if not all – of the senior leadership group within Defence,
including the Commander of the Defence Force designate, Angus Houston,
could be summed up by that Peter Criss’ claims were vexatious and, at
best, tenuous.

has provoked massive rumblings in the ranks. Integrity and honesty in
Defence have clearly gone AWOL – and this goes to more than just the
military justice system.