With Anzac Day looming, it seems a fitting time to re-examine our attitude towards and within the Australian Defence Force in light of the ADFA scandal. And, by all appearances, we finally have a Defence Minister willing to take that task head-on.
Today in Crikey Noel Turnbull, PR expert, Adjunct Professor in the School of Media and Communications at RMIT University, and former (he says “very junior”) artillery officer who served in Vietnam, outlines the forces that Stephen Smith is up against:
This is the massed force ready to attack Stephen Smith. There will be leaks, opinion pieces, attempts to traduce him as foolish or unpatriotic deployed as tactics. The outrageously biased and misleading attacks by Alan Jones on the government about the courts martial system is an example of how bad it can get. He may be harder to undermine than his hapless and foolish predecessor, Fitzgibbon, but the attempt will still be made.
There are also many professional and honourable men and women in the military or with a military background, notes Turnbull, who will support Smith. But the “framing is so strong, the PR campaign and the media coverage of the issues so predictable, that you would have to be brave or heroic to take it on.”
As Bernard Keane outlined yesterday, “Smith will need to stay on his mettle if he’s to do something few of his recent predecessors have achieved – emerge from Defence with reputation intact.”