Mr Wilkie has refused to meet with Mr Etches and says he "could not recollect" the alleged Hitler salute incident.
Mr Etches was successful in bringing about the resignation of senior officers and expulsion and disciplining of several cadets responsible for the college's "sick secret culture" of sadistic punishment for trifling or imagined offences. Wilkie was one of the cadets who were disciplined but he went on to become a career officer.
Mr Etches said he wanted to give Mr Wilkie a chance to tell his side of the story and admit that what happened was wrong and he was sorry for it. "Given his position in Australian politics, I thought he would want the Defence Force to be completely above board," he said. A Defence Department spokesperson said last night the department could not comment on specific details "for privacy reasons".
So Mr Wilkie, you want us to believe that you are a crusader on the side of what's right and you've gone to bat for the minority of problem gamblers in the country. You don't care that because of your pious rant, you have threatened the closure of hundreds of clubs in Australia, unable to survive without poker machine revenue. Some may say this is a good thing - I do not - if people want to spend their money on poker machines, that's their business and clubs are too important to our way of life to threaten their closure with your interference.
Andrew Wilkie has admitted he's a bully and he's now trying to bully the Prime Minister. He's the biggest threat to the minority Gillard government and says he'll withdraw his support for Labor if it fails to muster the numbers needed to pass legislation to limited punter spending on poker machines. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.