MPs to face the Royal Commision today.

Today, both the defence and veterans’ affairs ministers are set to provide sworn testimony in an ongoing inquiry into military suicides, as an organization representing elite special forces soldiers raises concerns about being excluded from participation.

Richard Marles and Matt Keogh will appear before a public hearing of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (RCDVS) in Sydney, with the commission expected to deliver its final report in September.

The Australian Special Air Service Association (ASASA), representing SAS soldiers, has expressed “extreme disappointment” over not being granted a hearing opportunity, stating that their request was disregarded without explanation. In their second written submission to the RCDVS, the ASASA, representing numerous Afghanistan War veterans, alleges that the commission deliberately excluded them from the list of witnesses.

According to ASASA, this decision has led some SAS veterans to believe that the commission is part of a cover-up in Canberra, avoiding critical issues linking the overuse of Special Forces in war to veterans’ suicides. ASASA chairman Martin Hamilton-Smith emphasized the importance of ensuring all voices are heard for the credibility of the RCDVS.

While some SAS veterans opted not to appear in person and requested representation from ASASA, a royal commission spokesperson asserted that matters concerning the elite Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) were thoroughly examined as part of inquiries into cultural and systemic factors contributing to high suicide rates among defence and veteran populations.

The spokesperson highlighted engagements with ASASA, including a roundtable discussion with commissioners in November 2021 and a meeting with the Royal Commission’s Community Engagement Team in February 2023. Additionally, the commission met with SASR members and ASASA representatives in Perth during early 2023 to hear firsthand about their military experiences.

The RCDVS maintained that submissions from ASASA informed their inquiries, including a special closed hearing on SASR matters in Perth in May of the previous year. The spokesperson also noted contributions from past and present SASR members.

An Albanese government spokesperson declined to comment on the scheduled ministerial appearances, acknowledging only that they would provide evidence. Labor, while in opposition, supported calls for the Morrison government to establish the royal commission, which commenced in July 2021.



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One comment

  • Phillip Kline March 8, 2024   Reply →

    Political parties will always seemingly do what’s right even if they are told it’s useless ie wind turbines .
    Get the guts and go nuclear

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