MP concerned for ‘anxious’ vets amid war crime findings
A FEDERAL MP who served in Afghanistan says he did not witness any war crimes during his deployment, as a report into harrowing allegations against Australian soldiers is set to be made public.
In a live address to the nation from Parliament House yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a special investigator would be appointed to prosecute allegations of Australian war crimes.
It comes as the Chief Of Defence Force Angus Campbell prepares a response to the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) report into allegations of unlawful killings and other possible breaches of the law of armed conflict.
The report details allegations against mainly special forces units, with the IGADF beginning its investigations in 2016.
Mr Morrison said there were a "significant number" of incidents and issues to look into, and the investigation would be "inherently complex".
Herbert MP Phillip Thompson - who deployed with Townsville's 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in 2009 - said any allegations of misconduct against members of the Australian Defence Force were personal and distressing for everyone.
Mr Thompson deployed to East Timor and Afghanistan where he suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was wounded in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast and medically evacuated back to Australia.
Mr Thompson said he never witnessed anything untoward during his deployment and was incredibly proud of his service.
"I had one of the best times of my life being on deployment because I got to experience what we trained so hard for,
"We helped a community, built a well, repelled attack and pushed the Taliban out.
"I was so proud to put on the uniform and those who come after us should be proud of the same.
"As a veteran we're horrified to hear of such allegations but we must ensure that people are given a fair chance and fair go to give their version of any allegations - this cannot be a trial by media."
Mr Thompson acknowledged that it would be a testing time for the veteran community as the findings of the report is revealed and potential criminal prosecutions follow.
He said he's received phone calls from across the nation from former and currently serving members expressing their anxiety and wanted to ensure them there was help available.
"I have a deep concern of the mental health impact this will have on our veteran community and families," he said.
"Hearing from members not being as proud as they should be to put on the uniform and I want to make sure that our people who are feeling ashamed and anxious reach out.
"These are only allegations and I can't stress enough that this investigation is done independently and remains at arms length from the political sphere and ADF."
Originally published as MP concerned for 'anxious' vets amid war crime findings