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Friday, April 15, 2011

Andrew Wilkie - Duntroon Bully

Just before Australia became involved in the Iraq war, Andrew Wilkie resigned from the intelligence agency he was working for because he said the excuse to invade Iraq was a sham. And as we now know, he was right. He was an unsuccessful Greens candidate in the 2004 Federal Election and for the Senate in Tasmania in the 2007 Federal Election. In 2010 he ran as an Independent for the Tasmanian seat of Denison and won.

Today the man who is one of the men who holds the balance of power, MP Andrew Wilkie has admitted that as a senior cadet at Duntroon Military College in 1983, he was involved in "bastardisation" and set "some sort of record" for incurring punishments and giving junior cadets a hard time.

Brendan Etches, a man who was 17 at the time, left Duntroon after several weeks of torture that had long-term effects for some of the cadets. He also makes the bizarre claim that Wilkie allegedly ordered junior cadets to stand to attention and salute the anniversary of Hitler becoming German Chancellor on January 30, 1933. When one cadet refused to stand, Wilkie allowed senior cadets to punish him. "He was drilling us before breakfast. I have a memory of him in a dressing gown, watching as the other senior guys were running around giving us a hard time," Mr Etches said.

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.