“Defence welcomes the tabling of the
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Reference’s Committee Report into
the Effectiveness of Australia’s Military Justice System,” General
Peter Cosgrove said on Friday in response to the Senate’s scathing report.

Service Chiefs and I are committed to a fair and equitable workplace
that includes a transparent and cohesive military justice system and
remain open to suggestions on how to improve our administrative and
disciplinary practices.”

Really? So how did they manage to
preside over a system which mistreated everyone ranging from a former
commander of the RAAF, Air Vice Marshall Peter Criss to Air Cadet
Sergeant Eleanor Tibble, the 15-year-old Tasmanian girl who committed
suicide in November 2000 when she thought she would be discharged.

Have a look at the submissions to the inquiry. One reads:

We suggest the effectiveness of the outcomes from this
opportunity will very much depend on the ability of the Committee,
Defence and Government to, collectively, connect this inquiry’s
findings, particularly in relation to culture, and the findings of
previous inquiries that have looked into defence matters. Identifying
and acknowledging the existence of the traits of groupthink as being
common and self evident in defence matters is an important first step
in curing this organisational affliction.

And have a look at Defence Minister Robert Hill’s comments on the report on the Sunday program:

It looks at the cases that went wrong. It doesn’t look at
the cases — the mass of cases that went right. And I think we’ve got to
be very careful about throwing out a military justice system that’s
taken hundreds of years to develop, has the culture of the command
chain as its basis, because we believe that the civilian alternative is
a better way.

Doesn’t the report and Cosgrove’s
motherhood response actually indicate that genuine reform is beyond the
ability of either the Department of Defence and the ADF? And shouldn’t
their civilian overlord, the minister, say that? That’s what their
other bosses, the Parliament, has done – pretty unambiguously.