It’s up to you

Over the past few weeks and especially over recent days I have received information and serious allegations.

They all refer to the highest levels of leadership within the Australian Defence Force.

And, if true, they all lead to the conclusion that staff within the Chief of Navy’s Office in 2013 and 2014 knew something was up.

But I can’t verify whether it is true, so I can’t publish the allegations. I can do nothing with the information I have received.

No one is prepared to put their name to their claim or provide any evidence.

I understand all too well the reasonable concern that this whole unseemly saga may cost jobs. I know the pressure of doing what is right when the command chain has other ideas.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that.

But there are lawful options that protect Defence members. And unless they are exercised it means this story will remain uninvestigated and unpublished.

It also means that the ‘Ray Griggs affair’ remains unresolved while confidence in Defence leadership crumbles. The senior hierarchy might not be tuned into the unhappiness I’m hearing. But it is there – along with a palpable sense of fear – and that means they are out of touch with those they lead and do not have a command relationship but one driven by terror.

That’s not good for morale or capability. It can only be resolved with courage.

We know that Defence conducted two ‘reviews’ because the Chief of Defence Force has admitted that before Senate Estimates. And we also know, for the same reason, that there was an ‘inquiry’ conducted by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force.

All of these cleared the Vice Chief of Defence Force, Ray Griggs.

Defence will not release these reports.

But now we also have a good idea why: none of them sought evidence from the Navy Petty Officer most damaged by the Vice Chief of Defence Force’s actions. Nor did they examine phone or social media records, or it seems, take any evidence from any other Defence members apart from the happy couple.

Which make the reviews and inquiries pointless.

And that is why there are persistent rumours about the timing of the relationship with a junior naval officer that Ray Griggs declared to the Chief of Defence Force in October 2014.

We also know that Ray Griggs’ new wife was promoted rapidly, moving up the ranks twice in three years and nine months and that she moved from a reserve role into a newly-created full time position.

There are persistent rumours about the details of these promotions and just who it was that signed off on the creation of the new job.

The only way to clear the air is for bravery and integrity. Unfortunately, neither the Chief of Defence Force nor his deputy appear to have the slightest interest in ending the rumours by releasing the investigation reports.

It’s a pity. Because if nothing wrong has been done the impression being given by the hierarchy only leads Defence personnel to reach the opposite conclusion.

So the integrity and bravery must come from those who claim knowledge of events that have not been made public.

If there are allegations of service offences they should be referred to the service police.

If there are allegations of double standards, misconduct or abuse of power they should be directed to the appropriate authority.

Senator Rex Patrick has raised this issue in the Senate. He has the ability to use his position to highlight problems without compromising the careers of Defence members. He can table documents in parliament.

There are others too. Senator Bernardi has a strong track record holding Defence to account as well.

And I can help facilitate communications too.

But I can’t do anything with anonymous tip offs other than to go searching. And that’s pretty hard when Defence won’t release anything at all except lies.

Like this over the weekend:

Recent media reports have incorrectly stated that Defence policy relating to conflicts of interest and inappropriate behaviour is no longer in place. This is wrong.

Defence’s fundamental policy position on conflicts of interest and inappropriate behaviour has not changed.

Any statements or reporting that are contrary to this are incorrect.

The amendments to the policy and related instructions in 2017 reflect the normal process of reviewing and updating policies to ensure they remain up to date.

The 2017 updates strengthened the policy framework to include applicable legislation, Defence Values, One Defence Leadership behaviours, Service and Australian Public Service Values.

Policy and major personnel-related decisions are developed by the Defence People Group, and extensively consulted across the organisation.

As a final step, once agreed, the policies are signed off by the Associate Secretary of Defence and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force.

Not a single media article stated that Defence had removed its policy on conflict of interest or inappropriate behaviour.

But that, in black and white writing, is what Defence has claimed.

What was said, including on this website, is that in November 2017 the Vice Chief of Defence Force, Ray Griggs, rescinded the ban on sexual relations within the chain of command.

And it was said because that’s exactly what Ray Griggs did when he signed the new Interim Defence Instruction Personnel 35-3 Required behaviours in Defence. Strangely, Defence did not mention that specific at all in its ‘response’.

I’m guessing that’s because the Head Honchos don’t have the intestinal fortitude to acknowledge what they’ve just done.

If the ball tampering scandal tarnishes the reputations of all Australian cricketers, then this Defence statement and the response of the hierarchy to coverage of this matter can only hurt the reputation of all serving personnel. The Australian Defence Force has demonstrably lied to the Australian public.

This is the new culturally-changed Defence Force. It is one that shames me and the thousands of other who have served or who currently do so today. It is suffering from a crisis of moral courage.

That’s why, regardless of whether any policy has been breached in this matter, there is something rotten at the top. That much is evident by the fact the second highest ranked officer in the Australian Defence Force has so little care for those he leads that he will break up a Defence family.

And his boss has okayed this. So has the Defence minister. But while we would expect that of a politician, we have different expectations of a senior military commander.

This matter should go further. In the interests of Defence it needs to go further.

But whether any of this happens is up to you. You have the ability to do something great.

*****

Know more? Contact me at personal@bernardgaynor.com.au

This article originally stated that Chloe Griggs had been promoted in just over two years. Defence has subsequently informed this website that although the Navy website gave the impression that Chloe Griggs was a Commander in 2014 this is incorrect. The Navy webpage has now been amended and I am happy to correct the record here as a result. Chloe Griggs was promoted to ‘Temporary Commander’ in three years and nine months. More details here.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of eight children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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