This morning I addressed the media at the Shrine of Remembrance at ANZAC Square, Brisbane. This is the statement that I made.
Last year, the Chief of Army, General David Morrison, famously said that the standard you walk past is the standard you set.
He also said that he would be ruthless in removing members who failed to live up to the Army’s new value of respect.
They are fine words, but they are worthless if they remain words only.
Unfortunately, I am here today because they are nothing more than empty words.
I have presented graphic evidence that the Australian Defence Force has given support to adults who exposed themselves and engaged in sexually-explicit acts in front of children. Unfortunately, this evidence has been ignored. Instead, the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, has decided to terminate my commission because I objected to this scandal.
This shameful incident occurred at last year’s Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Adults exposed their breasts and partially exposed or highlighted their genitalia in a deliberate and highly sexualised fashion. They promoted things such as spanking, flogging and bondage, as well as mutual masturbation. They described themselves as sexual perverts and these adults engaged in pornographic, sexually-explicit embraces.
It was bad enough that this occurred in public. It was even worse that this occurred with children present and even encouraged to participate in the parade promoting this behaviour.
The Australian Defence Force marched in support of this activity. It will do so again on Saturday.
If the Chief of Army’s words do mean anything, they mean this: the Australian Defence Force has marched past, and with, children who were exposed to indecent and lewd, sexually-explicit behaviour. As a result, it has set the standard that it is acceptable for adults to expose themselves in front of children.
On Friday, I was told by my military commander that I simply had a negative view of this behaviour. And even though he also accepted that this behaviour was inappropriate, he then told me that the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, had a more positive view and was determined to accept people who conduct themselves in such a fashion into the Australian Defence Force. My graphic complaint detailing numerous breaches of ADF law and policy was not even investigated.
This is a terrible indictment on Australia’s military. I find it sickening that an officer would tell me that General Hurley had a positive view of those who expose themselves in front of children. I find it extremely troubling that, as a result, lower-ranked officers in the Army, who know that this behaviour is unacceptable, are now forced to defend people who expose themselves in front of children as well.
There is currently a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. I am a Catholic and I support efforts to remove those from trusted positions within the Catholic Church who have engaged in or covered up sexual abuse of children.
Let me be very clear: any adult who exposes himself in front of children is engaged in a form of sexual abuse. This activity should not be supported or covered up. It does not matter whether it occurs at the Mardi Gras or anywhere else. Unfortunately the Australian Defence Force is doing both because General Hurley supports this behaviour.
General Hurley has even gone so far to defend his support of this behaviour, that he has written to me that the public expression of my Catholic faith undermines confidence in the values of the Australian Army.
I am proud to say that I have not stood silent while the Army has supported this form of sexual abuse of children. Unfortunately, it means I will probably lose my commission.
General Hurley should be ashamed of himself for supporting this scandal. If he had any decency, General Hurley would resign.
I have chosen to speak today at the Shrine of Remembrance in Anzac Square because I am proud of the Australian Army and what it has achieved. This Shrine remembers those who have given their life for freedom and civilisation in Australia.
Unfortunately, their legacy is being trashed by the highest ranking officer in the Australian military.
I would also like to thank the many thousands of people who have supported me – especially those within the military. I’m happy to say that there are still many fine officers and soldiers in uniform.
I am happy to let them know today that I will be pursuing all remaining internal appeals through the military and will be taking legal action as well, starting by lodging a complaint with the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission this week.
I will now take any questions on this topic.
You can find my original complaint regarding ADF involvement in the Mardi Gras here.