In the interests of full disclosure, CONTACT acknowledges we are late to the party on this issue, because we’ve been fully engaged in preparing the next issue of the magazine for publication
Defence has issued a statement backing the government’s recent announcement that Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean not be posthumously granted a Victoria Cross.
Despite a 2019 Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal recommendation that a VC be awarded to Sheean, Defence recently issued a statement saying they stand behind the government’s position.
“Defence’s view on the 2019 review conducted by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal, is that it presented no compelling new evidence nor any evidence of manifest injustice,” a Defence spokesperson said.
Those words were repeated by the Minister for Defence in the Senate and by the Prime Minister in public.
Speaking of the Prime Minister – in the video below, he tells Alan Jones that Keith Payne VC wouldn’t support this – yet Keith Payne VC told the same radio jock that he definitely would…
Senator Jacqui Lambie has also made public a letter from the Chair of the Tribunal accusing the Minister of misrepresenting the Tribunal.
Other media outlets have also reported that the PM may reconsider his position.
Defence’s position is essentially that they like and support the 2013 findings of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal, which wasn’t specifically about Sheean, but don’t like or support the 2019 recommendations of the same ‘independent’ Tribunal, which was specifically about Sheean.
On 23 July 2019 the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal decided to recommend to the Minister for Defence Personnel that:
- a) The decision by the Chief of Navy to refuse to recommend the award of the Victoria Cross for Australia to Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean in respect of his actions in HMAS Armidale during a Japanese aerial attack in the Timor Sea on 1 December 1942 be set aside.
- b) The Minister recommend to the Sovereign that Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia for the most conspicuous gallantry and a pre-eminent act of valour in the presence of the enemy in HMAS Armidale during a Japanese aerial attack in the Timor Sea on 1 December 1942.
The members of the Tribunal who considered and endorsed these recommendations were Chair of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal Mark Sullivan, former Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army David Ashley, former Commandant of the Royal Military College Duntroon Brigadier (Retd) Mark Bornholt, and Nadia Isenberg who has a long legal background at a senior level in both the Commonwealth and NSW governments, and the private sector – and is a serving lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.
The full report of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal can be found here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Minister Chester’s words and apparent attitude expressed shortly before the Tribunal heard submissions seem at odds with the government’s current stance, thought would appear from Jacqui Lambie’s info that Mr Chester was in favour of both the review and its findings, but was vetoed.
Furthermore, a thorough reading of the Tribunal report, especially in light of the rejection of the Tribunal’s finding’s, leaves me with a whole new, unflattering opinion of the current Chief of Navy.
I am also left with an overwhelming feeling that “something else is going on here”, of which I am sadly ignorant.
. . .