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The Kirkham Inquiry has exonerated Commandant Kafer, how do you think this will be seen within Defence?
When Minister Smith intervened with the ADFA Skype affair suspending Commandant Kafer due to allegations that the ADFA command weren’t handling complaints fairly, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) were shocked and disgruntled by the intervention of a minister.
That position was a hallmark of defence resistance to cultural change.
It now recognises the culture can heighten the potential for inapproprate conduct or for poor reporting or for poor complaint management, or poor leadership.
There is a quote by the previous Chief of the Defence Force (CDF), Angus Houston, “I cannot and will not do anything to cause embarassment to serving or former defence officials.” This highlights the resistance to true independent scrutiny of defence’s practices.
This case highlights the differences between what the civilian world expects and what the defence world expects.More broadly how do you see Smith’s handling of the scandal and the reviews that followed?Personally, from my own experience in researching defence, I felt Stephen Smith acted with some conviction addressing what can be an obstinate culture.On the one hand, all these reports being announced at once gives us all a lot of reading, but it also has the effect of difussing our assessment of the suite of reviews and the outcomes and recommendations.However, from my first glance at the material I’m quietly confident and encouraged that the kinds of words defence are using.
However, the claims about how Kate [the female cadet] was treated are not incongruous with previous ways of defence in how it does manage these things. So the finding that Minister Smith was incorrect in his judgment to intervene, the personnel of the ADF will be satisfied with that and will feel exonerated.