Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 13:14 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 08 Apr 2020 | 13:14 | SYDNEY

More on Fitzgibbon


Sam Roggeveen


26 March 2009 17:43

A few more thoughts on the Fitzgibbon story. First of all, let's remain open to the possibility that the initial story simply turns out to be wrong in its essentials. It's happened before.

Meanwhile, there are questions to be asked of how both sides of politics are handling this. Fitzgibbon himself seems to have concluded that his department is out to get him:

Mr Fitzgibbon has suggested that people opposed to his reform agenda, to be detailed later this year in an upcoming white paper, may be behind today's reports. "I am driving the biggest reform project in the history of the Defence organisation and I know that's really hard for some elements of that organisation," he said.

Is this really a wise thing for the Minister to say? If the story turns out to be false, he looks silly. If it's true, he's surely much better taking the high ground so that he can use the scandal to reform his Department from a position of authority, rather than looking like someone out for revenge.

Turning to the Opposition leader:

The Liberal leader said the "incompetent" Mr Fitzgibbon "should have been sacked long ago". The latest revelation was another unhappy episode following the SAS pay bungle last month, Mr Turnbull said. "This is the defence minister who was not able to manage to pay our frontline troops properly. "And now we see another extraordinary episode underlining what appears to be a complete breakdown in the relationship of confidence between him and his department."

It's perfectly defensible for the Opposition to call for a Minister's sacking on grounds of competence. But instead of taking another whack at the Government, wouldn't this have been a good time for Mr Turnbull to, oh, I don't know, defend the constitution?

If this story is true, it is surely a case where the Minister has been wronged, and his Department has committed a grave breach of Westminster principles. To call for the Minister's sacking at this time is giving that behaviour a free pass.