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Opposition's Reaction Predictable & Disappointing

10 September 2001 Media Statement

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton has expressed disappointment at the opposition's ill-informed response to today's confirmation of the comprehensive package of defence reviews and inquiries.

"As a former Defence Minister, Mr Bradford's ignorance about the position of the Judge Advocate General is surprising. Rodney Hide's ignorance about defence matters is less so.

"Contrary to Mr Bradford's claim, the Judge Advocate General is not an officer of the Defence Force – he is appointed by the Governor-General and is statutorily independent. The current incumbent is former Chief District Court Judge Peter Trapksi.

"He is the independent guardian of the military justice system with wide-ranging powers to conduct investigations – and it is entirely appropriate that he be asked to look at issues of military discipline.

"Indeed, it would be inappropriate for the Judge Advocate General to be excluded from the process," Mark Burton said.

"Further, the State Services Commissioner will be able to conduct his inquiry as he sees fit – with the ability to subpoena witnesses and hear evidence under oath.

"I have today announced two independent inquiries and an overarching review. There will be no ministerial interference in the proper conduct of the three processes.

"Opposition MPs have demanded an independent inquiry, with the ability to call witnesses and hear their evidence under oath. I have gone even further than that.

"I hope Mr Bradford, Mr Hide and others who have been throwing allegations around will now cooperate fully with the processes that have been put in place," Mark Burton said.


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