The defence minister, Peter Dutton, has popped up on radio to confirm the decision not to strip special forces personnel who served in Afghanistan of their meritorious unit citations.
Dutton told radio 2GB:
My judgment was that we shouldn’t be punishing the 99% for the sins of the 1%.
He said people who were proven to have done the wrong thing - “that means by a jury or by a process within defence” - would still lose the citation. He said the 99% “deserve our recognition, our praise, our honour”.
On overruling General Angus Campbell, Dutton said the decision the defence force chief had made last year had been “perfectly reasonable”.
He’s pragmatic, he understands that I’ve been able to look at all of the facts afresh.
Dutton said the newly established office of the special investigator would examine the war crimes allegations in detail:
There’s not a finer soldier in the country than Angus Campbell ... He was shocked like everyone else at the serious allegations that were being made in relation to some people.