My Fortnightly Update
Much has been written and said about the allegations of Special Forces war crimes in Afghanistan over the last week. Because of the fact that I have consistently been accused of war crimes over the last decade and because of my background as a soldier, I made my contribution through the media, most of which is on my website and Facebook, supporting the soldiers and their families, the steps taken by the Chief of the Defence Force and the future legal process. There is not much more to be said in my view, but much to be done. Let’s look after the wellbeing of all of those involved and their families, and I can vouch for the impact on self and family of being accused of such crimes. Let’s guard the reputation of the military in this country because they deserve our support and we need our military to be strong and effective in these very uncertain times. Let’s also support the process to now take its course and have confidence in our legal system.
Let me conclude by saying that the simple facts that I like to remember when I consider the issue of these allegations are as follows:
- The presumption of innocence is critical as is the support of those involved.
- None of the allegations refer to what happened in “the heat of battle”. It is not true that anything goes in the heat of battle, much less after a battle.
- It is critically important to maintain the moral high ground as an individual soldier or as an armed force or nation. That we are doing this strengthens us, not diminishes us or our current or future soldiers.
- By obeying the laws of armed conflict you can still win battles and wars, regardless of what our enemies do, particularly in today’s Australia and this era of media, social and otherwise.
- Such a legal process cannot be conducted behind closed doors in today’s Australia, as some are now suggesting, and what happens should remind every Australian, not just the military, that no one can condone the acts of murder or torture that are alleged in this four year long investigation.
Members of the Special Forces have come out publicly and said: “They are not one of us”. We should listen to them.
Great New Medical Training Facilities for South-Eastern NSW
It’s not often I get to see the results of government grants. Last week was different, as I opened two Regional Clinical Training Centres on behalf of Health Minister Greg Hunt. The centres—one each at Bega Hospital and Cooma Hospital—provide realistic facilitates to train student doctors, nurses and other health professionals in clinical duties. They also provide accommodation for the students as they conduct clinical placements in these hospitals. This is a great model that boosts our communities in many ways. Being student-focused, the centres provide significant learning opportunities using video connectivity and life-like settings. The centres also bring young health professionals to our region—and we hope living here for a time might encourage them to come back after graduation. The centres also bring highly experienced educators to share their experience; I’m sure that has benefits beyond the centres themselves. This great Coalition Government initiative will be taken to Moruya next, we hope by mid-2021.
These initiatives take a lot of work, so I’d like to congratulate the University of Canberra, the Australian National University, the NSW Health Service, and the local leaders and champions for delivering these new centres. It’s clear to me that local drive and initiative is the main ingredient: taxpayer money just fuels their ideas and enterprise.
Shoutout – The Entrance Boat Shed
Anne and I love our few acres of paddocks and poplars on the Southern Tablelands, but like most Aussies we’re also bits of suckers for the water! One of our favourite, quintessentially Australian images of the coastline in our mighty state is that of The Entrance Boat Shed, nestled in its hundred year old glory under the striking modern engineering of The Entrance Bridge.
Built in 1927 to entertain the tourists who flocked to the area’s beautiful lakes, the Boat Shed offers authentic and varied Tuggerah Lake experiences including motor boats, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and of course rod hire for those who like their fun on the water to include fishing and prawns! Owners Toni and Terry are currently refurbishing the historical weatherboard shed, and restoring as well their fleet of over sixty craft, which were also made on the premises. This community spirited couple swapped the red dirt of the Riverina for the stunning waterways of The Entrance just on three years ago, buying the renowned business from the previous owner who had run it for 37 years.
Like all NSW small business owners, Terry and Toni could never have imagined the challenges they would face this year – February floods (350 ml in two days!!) and July East Coast Lows battered The Entrance on top of COVID, and life is only now beginning to return to some semblance of normal. Toni reports how pleasing it is to see our NSW residents recognising how incredibly tough it has been for our tourism business operators, and making holiday decisions to rediscover the vast attractions of the state.
I wasn’t able to jump into a boat when I visited, but the water looked tremendously appealing, the kayaks and canoes looked great fun, the weather was fabulous, and Toni and Terry are passionate ambassadors of their fantastic aquatic playground, and passionate about their community and its history. The Boat Shed can cater for individuals, families and corporate groups, and no boat licence is required.
The Entrance has had the most difficult of years – if you’re heading to our spectacular Central Coast over this holiday period, consider a visit to The Entrance, and to its iconic, historic Boat Shed and its welcoming crew!
My Podcast ‘Noise Before Defeat’
All six episodes of my podcast ‘Noise Before Defeat’ have now been released.
Australia is in a time of uncertainty and faces real peril. We are being challenged on the political, economic and public health fronts. I have seen the best and worst of what Australia might experience over the next decade.
My series of six podcasts with host Sarah Davidson (‘Seize the Yay’) explains that we need to get organised at the national level to face these challenges: otherwise, all our separate activity is just ‘Noise Before Defeat’.
Click below to listen to my podcast on Apple Podcast or Spotify.
Last Fortnight’s Media