Rarely have I seen a SMH article so critical of a serving government minister, as retired Major-General John Cantwell's recent assessment of Minister Stephen Smith.
It would appear that Smith has a problem with this portfolio. I am told that he is a capable fellow, but if this story is corroborated by others who have had dealings with him, he can only be a liability to our forces in the ADF, serving in difficult areas of the world.
His ministerial colleagues and the PM need to find him a portfolio such as Global Warming or Sport. There he can play the TV cycle game, engage in politics, and not harm the morale of our serving members of the ADF. Should he stuff up in Sport or Warming, it would make little difference really to Australia, save a few medals lost in a Games here or there.
It's all about respect. Does the Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, respect the men and women of the Australian Defence Force? Regrettably, the answer appears to be ''no''.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politi...#ixzz1oneX8gbjIf on the other hand, the retired general's impression is wrong, we need to have some good news stories from his Department on his role in the post of Defence Minister, and perhaps some journalists or retired soldiers who can argue against the general's view, in Smith's support.That same day I escorted Smith to one of our forward patrol bases, which were established when we expanded our operations into an area previously covered by Dutch and French troops, who had recently departed. The CO of the mentoring taskforce had sensibly rebalanced his force to cover the new territory. But the Australian and Afghan troops there had been in constant and occasionally heavy contact with the enemy. They were under the pump.
We gathered the dirty, tired Diggers together at the end of Smith's tour. Media crews travelling with the minister turned on their cameras and he made a lacklustre speech clearly pitched at the audience back home. He talked ''at'' the soldiers, not to them. He then turned to walk back to the helicopter pad. ''Minister,'' I said, ''perhaps you might take a couple of questions from the soldiers before you go?'' The look I got in response was poisonous. ''Well, are there any questions?'' he asked the soldiers.
''Yes, sir,'' one said. ''We got moved out here earlier than we were supposed to and we're spread a bit thin on the ground. Can we get some additional troops sent out from Australia?'' It was a reasonable question, at least from the perspective of a soldier fighting in a scrubby valley in Afghanistan. Smith launched into a long spiel about supporting the coalition and fighting terrorism and building capacity in the Afghan security forces and making a contribution and all the phrases that work well in Canberra. It didn't work so well when delivered to blokes who would soon start another patrol along paths hiding improvised bombs designed to kill them. There were no other questions.
Walking towards the helicopter for the ride back to Tarin Kowt, Smith said to me, ''Don't set me up with unscheduled questions like that again''. He was not happy.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politi...#ixzz1onfnc4tC
Please read the whole article in the SMH.
I have not been as troubled, by an article about a serving minister, for some time.