Crimson Tried

YESTERDAY the ABC asked – legitimately – why Scott Morrison literally received the red carpet treatment when he landed at Williamtown RAAF Base earlier this month. He is not Head of State. It does seem strange but should it? While Ellen McCutchan for RMIT/ABC Fact Check went to the trouble of consulting Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd about their prime ministerial receptions at airports – no move on rouge for them – there may be an explanation at least for the second regal welcome she cites. In February, the PM arrived at Williamtown but this time was accompanied by the then Minister for Defence and the Minister for Defence Industry, as well as the Air Force Chief, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, and Air-Vice Marshal Cath Roberts. Conceivably, this was thought to be an ensemble more VIP-laden than usual and deserving of ceremony. I was surprised they were all on the same flight. Economical maybe but demonstrably unwise.

Anyway, this mini-fuss and those pictures give rise to a few other observations. First, I don’t have any objection to the Prime Minister of Australia – or rather, his office – being afforded a degree of respectful acknowledgement in such settings. Two ADF personnel standing to attention in US-style at the bottom of boarding stairs – and nothing more – is not unreasonable. Such a duo should not salute, needless to say. Purists will point out that the Governor-General (on behalf of his principal, Queen Elizabeth II) is the chief of the defence forces, not the prime minister. Except he isn’t. If he wants to put the issue to the test, David Hurley can try to dispatch a frigate to the South China Sea next week. Second, the Air Force should choose for its Ceremonial Stairway Guard male personnel with a military bearing, similar height and no guts over belts. Finally…

… Neil James, the executive director of the Australia Defence Association… said he initially thought the photo was a “photoshopped hoax”…

According to Mr James, the backlash to the photo of Mr Morrison was “fully justified”.

“One of the key points about the Defence Force is that you don’t bring the Defence Force into political controversy,” Mr James said.

He explained that the principle of civil control of the military was reciprocal, and that while it was important that the Defence Force not get involved in politics, it was also the responsibility of politicians to not involve it.

“It’s not just the military that has to be neutral politically, it’s that politicians have to do nothing that undermines the public’s confidence that the military is apolitical,” he said.

Once again I point out in response to James (nowadays, the Fr Bob of military moralising) that the principle of civil control of the military is not “reciprocal.” It is absolute. He conflates a convention about involvement in politics (a good one) with the overarching legal reality of ultimate command. Moreover, there is no evidence Mr Morrison’s office ordered these honour guards or that the RAAF itself did so for a party political reason. As for neutrality, the ADF’s far left-wing agenda, its illegal leaking to media and its feminist-ideological war on the SAS prove that an honour guard for Scott Morrison is a tenth-order issue to any impartial, intelligent observer.

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1 Response to Crimson Tried

  1. jupes says:

    Such a shame that at a time when we need a Bruce Ruxton, we get a Neil James.

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