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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Angus Houston Needs to Go

The Chief of Defence, Angus Houston, needs to go, says Dr Julian Fidge, a GP at Wangaratta and a Captain in the Army Reserve. He says the destructive military culture will never change with him in charge and has called for his resignation.

"The Minister needs to ask the Chief of Defence to resign. He's been there for the last several inquiries and hasn't been able to achieve any change," he said. "He no longer enjoys the support of the Australian public. As a serving officer he doesn't have my support, or the support of many officers. He added "I think the officers who do support him are the ones who cause the problems at the root of this culture."

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has been overwhelmed with complaints about sexual assault since the Skype sex scandal but to his credit, he has not backed away from the issue.

Dr Fidge thinks the issue of women being allowed to take up any role in the military is just a furphy, a side issue to take the presssure off the destructive brutality meted out by certain officers over years. He said that women are set up for failure under the current culture because of discrimination, harassment, bullying, abuse of power and misuse of the military justice system.

Dr Fidge has gone public about issues within the ADF before, last September he was court martialled for trying to raise concerns with the hierarchy. "They assembled a full court martial last year ... and they had eight counts of insubordination to try and get rid of me, but my defence barrister convinced them this was inappropriate. "I've written personally to the Chief of Defence about this toxic culture because it affects medical and nursing officers.

Dr Fidge believes senior officers have each other's backs no matter what. Over the past four years, he has documents detailing shocking episodes that need investigating, but every time, they shut him down. When asked if he feared for his safety, Dr Fidge said he is not concerned about speaking out. "I'm past caring what the ADF thinks of me trying to improve the culture," he said. "This is a widespread issue and persecuting me will not fix it."

What a shame Defence Minister Smith missed the perfect opportunity to finally get rid of Houston when he threatened to resign if the Minister removed the head of the ADFA over the Skype incident - he could have killed two birds with one stone.