Response to questions from Bernard Gaynor
12 April 2018
The following statement was provided to the website bernardgaynor.com.au on Monday 9 April 2018 following approaches to Defence for comment on the allegations raised by the website.
Response to questions from Bernard Gaynor
As Defence has stated, in media statements and during the 29 February Senate Estimates hearing, this matter was the subject of two independent reviews, both of which found no breaches of Defence policy.
Navy has also reviewed the decision-making process for the promotion of Commander Chloe Griggs and found that it was merit-based and complied with Navy promotion policies. To suggest otherwise is wrong.
Defence notes you have posted a number of stories on this matter which contain factual errors. While your questions contain a number of baseless assertions that Defence will not respond to, there are fundamental errors that should be corrected.
1. Your interpretation of the rules surrounding personal relationships within Defence is wrong. Defence’s policy on personal relationships within the Defence Force is clear and focusses on potential conflicts of interest within the direct chain of command. Defence policy, which has been in place since the early 2000s, does not preclude relationships between members of the ADF of different ranks or between members of the ADF more generally, with the exception of relationships between trainees and their instructors. Many members of the ADF are in cross-rank relationships.
2. Your statements regarding changes to Defence’s policy surrounding conflicts of interest and inappropriate behaviours are incorrect. Defence's fundamental policy position on conflicts of interest and inappropriate behaviour has not changed. The review and update of the policy commenced in 2013 following a number of well publicised incidents and involved extensive consultation with a number of working groups across Defence over several years. Defence policy on conflicts of interest and inappropriate behaviour is now found in Interim Defence Instruction (General) 35-3 Required Behaviours in Defence and in the Complaints and Alternate Dispute Resolution Manual. The current policy states that Defence personnel have a responsibility to report potential conflicts of interest, including those that might arise from workplace relationships.
Policy and major personnel-related decisions are developed by the Defence People Group. Once a policy is agreed, the policies are it is signed off by the Associate Secretary of Defence and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force.
3. Your suggestion that Defence members are not permitted to present information in relation to this matter is not true. Defence personnel are subject to policy regarding public comment and the unauthorised release of information. The policy is intended to protect information and operational security as well as personal privacy, not to impinge on the privacy or safety of Defence personnel or their families. However, established and proven mechanisms exist through which Defence personnel may report suspected wrongdoing. This can be done through the chain of command, who may establish inquiries where it is necessary to support decision-making, or to Defence investigative authorities. A member who wishes to make a confidential report of wrongdoing may also use the processes authorised, and protected, by the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Act 2013. It is a criminal offence under the PID Scheme for threats or reprisals to be made against those who make disclosures.
All current and former public officials seeking to raise concerns about suspected wrongdoing are encouraged to do so via the PID Scheme Hotline on 1800 673 502. If you have evidence of any breach of policy, we encourage you to provide that evidence to Defence.
Lastly, Defence notes with concern your efforts to obtain the personal contact details of Defence personnel without their consent or invitation in the process of seeking information about this matter. Defence requests you respect the privacy of our personnel and refrain from unsolicited approaches to Defence staff.