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Emotions flow on trip to Timor

August 4, 2016

LAST week 27 Australian veterans returned from an emotional 10-day visit to the Republica Democratica de Timor L’Este.

blahOrganised by Gary Stone and sponsored by the Queensland RSL branch, it was the first time many had ret­urned since Australian-led INT­ERFET forces intervened as East Timor transitioned from Indonesian occupation in 1999.

What they discovered then was a nation in ruins, its precious but minimal infrastructure deliberately and wantonly destroyed as the bitter, vengeful Indonesians reluctantly withdrew.

What many had not seen nor properly understood was the equally bitter 25-year conflict between Timorese Falantil and Fretilin guer­illas against the occupying Indonesians, who had in Timorese eyes simply replaced Portugal as the occupying power.

In late 1975, when Australia was itself racked by political upheaval and in the post-Vietnam environment, no government was prepared to commit to another Asian war, Indonesia was able to seize both East Timor and the Oeccussi enc­lave in a swift, brutal invasion.

Even the murder of five Australian journalists at Balibo on October 16, 1975 did not convince timid Australian politicians to intervene.

For many serving in the ADF at the time it was seen as a betrayal of the Timorese who, at great cost, had loyally supported Australian commandos during 1942 as Japan swept relentlessly south.

Perhaps if those same Australian politicians could have known that thousands of Timorese would be murdered, “disappeared” or relocated by the Indonesians over the next quarter century they might have acted, but the reality is they did not.

Estimates vary but approximately 200,000 Timorese died during Indonesia’s brutal occ­upation and, according to Timorese tradition, the nation is attempting to locate and ­recover the remains of the missing so their spirits can be at peace.

During their visit, Australian veterans were joined by Timorese veterans of the guerilla war against Indonesia, men and women who showed them battle sites where they had ambushed Indonesian forces, and the caves where they had hidden, many of them for years separated from families and communities.

It was a story many Australian veterans had not known and they were deeply moved when shown memorial mausoleums containing thousands of Timorese flag-draped coffins of recovered remains.

Witnessing a repatriation ceremony at Natarbora for ano­ther 510 sets of remains, they could not hide their emotion as they compared that ­occasion with the recent repatriation of Australian war dead from Terendak cemetery in Malaysia.

Last week at Balibo they discovered a thriving, vibrant community in stark contrast to the silent, deserted, devastated ruins INTERFET forces witnessed on their arrival in 1999.

As the kindergarten choir from the Australian-sponsored Balibo Five primary school sang a welcoming song, some veterans were able to exorcise their personal demons that had haunted them since their own Timor service.

Timor and its people still have a long way to go but, des­pite their differences with Australia over the Timor Gap oil resources, they are grateful for what Australia has done for them since 1999. For the Diggers it finally made their sacrifices seem worthwhile.

Xmas in July – Annual Luncheon

This years annual luncheon was held at the Bellbowrie Tavern, dress was casual and the atmosphere was informal with the staff at the Tavern doing an excellent job looking after us including setting up a Christmas Tree, decorations and Bonbons on the tables.

It was good to see an excellent roll up from  members and very positive feedback from our invited guests about how enjoyable and relaxed the event was.



VALE: Oliver John Scott (Jock) Atkinson DFC

We lost one of our Air Force legends last week, this Monday we celebrate the life of Oliver John Scott Atkinson DFC.

Jock, as he liked to be called, started his military career as a private soldier in the 61st Battalion, Queensland Cameron Highlanders. He transferred to the RAAF, underwent flight training and was posted to 57 Squadron at East Kirkby.  He was awarded the DFC flying Lancasters in Bomber Command.

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Formerly of Kenmore and recently of Fairview, Pinjarra Hills. Oliver John Scott Atkinson DFC (Jock), passed away peacefully on 11 May, 2015, aged 95 years. Dearly loved Husband of Heather, Father and Father-in-law of Roslyn and Richard, Elizabeth (dec’d), John (dec’d), and Grandfather and Grandfather-in-law of Claire, Tom and Emmy, Great-grandfather of Allegra and Alex Jock, and Uncle of Peter and Mary, Lynn and Jamie, Great-uncle of James and Philip, Charles, Eleanor and Felicity and their Families.

A service to celebrate Jock’s wonderful life will be held at 11.00a.m., on Monday, 18 May, 2015 in bushland surroundings at the Chapel, Centenary Memorial Gardens, 353 Wacol Station Road, Sumner Park Q.  The President of Kenmore-Moggill Sub Branch respectfully requests that Members , attend the Funeral Service.

During the Second World War, Britain’s Royal Air Force was divided into a number of functional and geographic commands in line with an organisation that had first been implemented in 1936. Bomber Command was based in Great Britain and was responsible for bombing targets in enemy-controlled Europe.

bomber-command-web_2At the height of its operations in late 1944 Bomber Command comprised over 80 operational squadrons. These squadrons were organised into several groups on the basis of their role, the type of aircraft they operated, and the locations of the airfields from which they operated. In 1939 these groups were numbered 2-5 and by the end of the war Bomber Command comprised 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (Canadian), 8 (Pathfinder), 100 (Special Duties), and 91, 92 and 93 (Training) groups.

Approximately 10,000 Royal Australian Air Force personnel served with Bomber Command and 3,486 were killed.

“Lest we Forget”

Musical Tribute to the Anzacs – QCWA Concert 28 March 15

The Moggill QCWA recently held an evening concert at the Bellbowrie Community Church as a tribute to the ANZACs in this the centenary year of the Gallipoli landings.
President of the Sub-Branch Trevor Dixon and his wife Freda were invited as guests to this very enjoyable evening.  The entertainment started with the eloquent verve of the MC is true vaudeville spirit and didn’t stop all night.  A frolicking mixture of dulcet tones from the choir, skits of men on the front played by the girls back home and good old fashioned sing-a-longs.
Kenmore State High School student Josh Dixon supported the QCWA and the Sub-Branch as bugler and capped off a wonderful performance by picking up a WWI bugle on display and playing it for the remaining crowd as everyone filed out.

National President’s Newsletter No 1 of 2015

Ken Doolan

  1. Prime Minister’s response about the indexation of

veterans’ entitlements


In my newsletter No 7 of 2014 I mentioned I had written to

the Prime Minister pointing out the inconsistency in the

Government’s policy settings on indexing veterans’

entitlements. Part of that letter read:


‘In an earlier letter I commended the Government on behalf of the

           RSL for fulfilling its election promise by legislating for fair indexation

           of payments to DFRB and DFRDB Superannuants. The

           legislation explicitly acknowledged that indexing by the Consumer

         Price Index (CPI) was unfair.


Logic dictates that if this was unfair so too is the change to indexing by CPI from 1 July 2017 to the Service and Aged pension, Income Support Supplement, Disability Pension, War Widow(er) Pension and equivalent MRCA payments.


The RSL calls on the Government to redress this inconsistency in policy by revoking the changes due to take effect on 1 July 2017.’


In a letter dated 21 January 2015, Prime Minister Abbott responded as follows:


‘Thank you for your letter dated 8 December 2014 regarding the indexation of income support and compensation pensions paid to veterans and their families by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


I want to say up-front that this government is a strong friend of Defence and is a strong friend of veterans. We respect the RSL and what it stands for.


I understand that you and the ex-service community are concerned about the implications of decisions made regarding the indexation of these pensions. I want to stress, however, that under the measures announced in the 2014-15 Budget, no pension will be cut and the Government will continue to increase pensions twice yearly.


Since you wrote to me, I understand your National Board has passed a motion critical of the Government’s position on the recent pay arrangement for the Australian Defence Force.


I would like to underline to you that the Government recognises that military service is unique and we have repeatedly stated that, while we would like to pay our ADF personnel more, we simply can’t give what we do not have. Australia currently faces a monthly interest bill of over $1 billion and would have been burdened with a debt rising to $667 billion if left unchecked. In this fiscal and economic context it would be irresponsible to borrow yet more money to pay for larger wage increases.


Since the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal handed down its decision on the ADF pay offer, the Government has decided not to proceed with changes to discretionary leave, food and motor vehicle allowances. I also stress that the new arrangement does not change any overseas conditions of service for deployed ADF members, who will continue to receive additional remuneration and preferential tax treatment, reflecting the nature of the operation on which they are deployed.


I have copied our correspondence to the Minister for Veterans Affairs,

Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson, and the Minister for Defence, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP, who have portfolio responsibility for these matters.


I thank you again for taking the time to write to me.’


The Prime Minister included a pen script to his letter stating his willingness to meet to further discuss these issues. I am hopeful this meeting will take place in the next couple of weeks.


  1. RSL submission to the Defence Sub Committee of the Joint

     Committee Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade inquiry into the

     Defence Annual Report 2013/2014


Our examination of the Defence Annual Report 2013/2014 brought to light issues which the National Board considered should be brought to the attention of this Joint Sub-Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament.


The text of the RSL submission reads as follows:




The National Board and Members of the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) welcome the opportunity of making a submission to the Defence Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade into the Annual Report of the Department of Defence for the year 2013-2014 (DAR 13/14).


The RSL has a proud record of consistent support for the men and women of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and of the need for Australia to maintain an adequately financed, fully manned, highly effective and fully combat capable defence force able to be deployed rapidly in harm’s way in high intensity war to protect the nation. The freedoms and liberty Australians enjoy in our vibrant democracy are too precious to be put at risk. They have been protected and preserved by the sacrifices of many and must never be taken for granted.


Committee Terms of Reference


The RSL acknowledges the importance of the civilian component of the Defence organisation, supports the leadership diarchy concept and respects that DAR 13/14 covers the totality of the organisation. That said, this submission comments only on the ADF.

It addresses the issues identified in the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry but because of their fundamental importance commences with comment on ADF personnel matters such as remuneration.


Personnel Matters


Remuneration of the ADF


In Chapter 8 of DAR 13/14 under the major heading Remunerating People and the sub heading ADF Remuneration it is noted that “the independent Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal established under Section 58H of the Defence Act 1903 is responsible for setting pay and pay-related allowances for ADF members” Thereafter the report notes that the ADF Workplace Remuneration Arrangement 2011-2014 was a “key component of the ADF remuneration framework and is consistent with the Government’s broader workplace relations policies.”


DAR 13/14 then asserts that “the arrangement is part of the ADF remuneration initiative aimed at attracting and retaining military personnel…” It goes on to assert that “the Workplace Remuneration Arrangement increases salary and salary related allowances in return for improvements in organisational efficiency and productivity.”


The RSL has concerns about some of these assertions.


One is that the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) is perceived as being only nominally independent.

Another is the assertion that the Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) is part of the ADF remuneration initiative aimed at attracting and retaining military personnel.

The ADF Opinion


RSL soundings from ADF personnel before and after this pay case was heard in 2011 indicated dissatisfaction with what was put before the DFRT in a case agreed both by the ADF leadership and the Public Service Commission representing the Government. In making this point the RSL reminds the Committee that thousands of ADF members are also members of the RSL. It is also pertinent that other ADF conditions of service such as housing are a considerable factor in seeking to attract and retain ADF personnel.


Independence of the DFRT


Although legislation established the DFRT as independent, it is reasonably perceived that the Tribunal’s independence has been compromised by successive Governments of different political persuasions requiring that ADF WRA cases be agreed by the ADF leadership representing service personnel and by the Public Service Commission representing the Government before they are put to the DFRT. This was the case for WRA 2011-2014 and again, more recently, for WRA 2014-2017.


The point the RSL makes is that the DFRT needs not only to be independent but to be perceived by the men and women of the ADF as independent. Though it is possible for the DFRT to come to a finding which is at odds with “agreed” cases put before it, this is highly unlikely. The Tribunal must make findings based on the evidence put before it and when both the ADF and Government present agreed evidence there are scant grounds upon which the Tribunal could find otherwise.


There are two other major disadvantages of presenting “agreed” cases.

The first is that it constrains the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) from acting in the best interests of the men and women in the ADF. As was clearly demonstrated in the public backlash against the DFRT findings in the 2014 WRA pay case, service personnel considered the ADF leadership was unable to put forward their legitimate claim for a pay increase to recompense them for their increased cost of living.


The second disadvantage is that a key reason for establishing the DFRT, the removal of pay setting for ADF members from party politics, has been compromised. During the long period at the end of the last century where cases put before the DFRT were contested, there were few if any politically controversial ADF pay case outcomes. All sides of politics respected the fact that the DFRT was a neutral, independent umpire. This is no longer the case. It is not credible for any Government to claim that it is not responsible for ADF pay outcomes when successive Governments have required WRA cases going to the DFRT be previously “agreed”.


Nor is there any validity in the argument that major ADF pay cases must be “agreed” before being placed before the DFRT for decision so as to ensure compliance with Government pay setting policies. The legislation makes clear that in arriving at its decisions the DFRT must take account of the incumbent Government’s wage and salary fixing policies.


Finally it is worth recalling that the men and women of the ADF are quite different “employees” from any others paid by the Commonwealth. They may not withdraw their services either for personal or collective reasons. They must obey their superiors even at the risk of their lives. They must work whenever required so to do and have constraints on their personal lives not imposed on others. To equate their pay fixing to the work place arrangement model used in the last two pay cases is to attempt to do the impossible – to liken them to all other Commonwealth employees.


The RSL contends that the practice of presenting ADF pay cases as work place arrangements demanding evidence of such matters as improvements in productivity and organisational efficiency as justification for increases in remuneration is a travesty of the military ethic. Men and women of the ADF engaging the enemy are oblivious to civilian workplace benchmarks. They fight for our nation, our freedoms, their families, their mates and their lives. They do not fight for pay rises linked to productivity increases or improvements in organisational efficiency.


For these reasons the RSL urges abandonment of the practice of requiring the ADF to agree major pay cases with the Department representing the Government before they are presented to the DFRT.


Attracting and retaining ADF personnel


The heart and soul of the ADF are the men and women who together make up the force. Attracting Australians of the calibre needed by our armed forces to be fully effective when sent in harm’s way requires certainty that their conditions of service will be appropriate and assured over their periods of service.

Retaining trained and experienced members of the ADF is essential for the ongoing fighting effectiveness of the ADF. It is also economically sensible. The taxpayers’ investment in recruiting, training and developing the experience of each member of the ADF is very significant. Common-sense suggests that the nation should do all that is reasonable to retain each member of the ADF until such time as there has been a reasonable return on this investment.

Housing for the men and women of the ADF and their families is a key factor in the ongoing quest to retain effective and experienced members of the ADF. This is of particular importance when the exigencies of service life demand relatively frequent geographic relocation. ADF members posted from one locality to another have the reasonable expectation that the availability and quality of service housing will be as good as or if not better in the new locality than in the area they leave.


The housing outlook for ADF members has improved over the past couple of decades due in part to the establishment of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA). This entity has a wealth of knowledge and experience about the needs of ADF personnel and seeks to meet their expectations. As the makeup of service families change so too do their accommodation needs. This is not to state that the DHA always meets expectations. Housing stocks inevitably lag behind changes in the makeup of service families and the ongoing quest of all involved is for continuous improvement.


The RSL has monitored the housing situation for members of the ADF for decades and is in no doubt that the retention of the DHA as a government entity will continue to assist the retention of ADF personnel. The RSL has made it known to those charged with investigating whether the DHA should be sold to private enterprise that there is no compelling evidence supporting such a change. To the contrary, the evidence is that the housing needs are being met in a cost effective manner by DHA, an organisation focused on the needs of ADF members and not on the demands of shareholders.


Critical categories of employment


The RSL supports the initiative of the Services allowing for varied pay rates to promote retention in those parts of the ADF with critical shortages. In giving effect to this measure it will be important the Chiefs of Service have the flexibility to adjust quickly and have the authority to act as circumstances dictate. Financial offsets will need to be identified to allow for this expenditure. An offset which commends itself to the RSL is money which could be recouped by significantly reducing the numerical size of the ADF leadership group.


In promoting this option the RSL accepts that a small part of the growth of the number of star rank officers in the ADF over the past two decades has been due to their secondment to areas other than Defence and to star rank officers filling positions in allied or coalition headquarters in overseas areas of operations. Despite these considerations the size of the ADF leadership group appears to be out of all proportion to the numerical size of the ADF.


DAR 13/14 Table 8.1 lists the numerical strength of the ADF as 57,036. Table 8.17 shows that the star rank officers leading this modestly sized defence force include 9 officers holding three star rank and 43 officers holding two star rank and 137 officers with one star rank. By any yardstick this is far too large a leadership group for a numerically modestly sized defence force.


Recruiting and employment of women


The RSL notes the shortcoming that DAR 13/14 does not appear to include statistics about the recruitment of women into the ADF. This is unfortunate given the stated intention of the ADF to be proactive in recruiting women and in opening all employment categories to women.

Table 8.17 of DAR 13/14 notes there are only 13 women out of 190 star rank officers in the ADF. The RSL trusts that this number will rise over time and encourages the leaders of the ADF to take whatever actions are needed to foster the prospects of more women joining the senior ADF leadership group.


Cultural reform and the Pathway to Change


The RSL commends the ADF leadership for the progress that is being made in establishing diversity in the membership of the ADF. Increased recruitment of indigenous Australians and cultural reform in all the services are welcome developments.


Reserve Policy and Project Suakin


The integration of the Air Force and Navy reserve forces into the whole force has been a significant and welcome development. So too has been the acceptance of Project Suakin which has been supported consistently by the RSL during its development.


Military Justice


The current system of military justice may not be ideal but it is constitutionally safe. More to the point, trials by Courts Martial are well understood and respected. Though they are not jury trials they are trials by more than one person. Restricted Courts Martial are comprised of a minimum of 3 persons and General Courts Martial are comprised of a minimum of 5 persons. As such Courts Martial have come to be accepted as de facto jury trials.


The RSL will continue to try to persuade those elected to the Australian Parliament to ensure that any change to Australian military justice legislation mirrors to the extent possible the norms of Australian civil law and that it is not in conflict with or perceived to be in conflict with the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. In making this point the RSL affirms its continued opposition to the formerly failed legislation known as The Military Court of Australia Bill 2012.


The RSL contends that any change to the system of military justice in Australia must avoid any possibility of serious service charges being tried by persons appointed as Military Judges acting alone. Such a possibility is so at variance with the norms of justice in the nation as to be dangerous.


First Principles Review


The RSL accepted the invitation to forward a submission to the First Principles Review Committee and commends this document to the Defence Sub Committee undertaking this inquiry. A copy is attached.


The 2015 White Paper and Force Structure Review


The RSL accepted the invitation to forward a submission to those charged with compiling the 2015 Defence White Paper and Force Structure Review and commends this document to the Defence Sub Committee undertaking this inquiry. A copy is attached.


Capability developments and major projects


The RSL National Defence Committee with a membership including former ADF star rank officers and whose Deputy Chairman is a member of the RSL National Board seeks to ensure that the RSL National President and National Board are kept current to the extent possible given security considerations, about ADF capability developments.


One major capability development of considerable concern to the RSL is the future submarine project. RSL concerns include:


  • the need for a competitive tender process and that to the extent

possible this be sufficiently transparent to gain and maintain public



  • the need to thoroughly compare competitive overseas submarine

designs taking account of strengths and weaknesses in meeting the

ADF requirement for future submarines


  • the essentiality of ensuring a skills transfer program is a part of any

contract with an overseas submarine designer or builder


  • recognition of the importance of ensuring that any overseas designed

or built submarine is able to be sustained through life in Australia and

that it would not be subjected to interruptions in the supply of essential

parts due to unforeseeable changes in international relations


  • acceptance of the essential need for Australia to acquire a

   comprehensive locally based technically expert team able to ensure

future submarines are kept operational


  • the wisdom of planning to cope with challenges in cooperatively

developing high technology defence equipments with nations whose

cultures and languages are significantly different from Australia


  1. RSL Sponsors Australian Contingent to Canadian Allied Winter Sports Camp 2015


For the third consecutive year the Returned & Services League is sponsoring the attendance of the Australian Defence Force contingent of wounded, injured and ill serving members to the Canadian Forces Allied Winter Sports Program. This will assist these brave men and women in travelling to Whistler Blackcomb British Columbia Canada in February with the aim of reintroducing them to a more active life.


The 40 service personnel who hail from Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia will attend the camp and take part in alpine skiing, snowboarding, curling and sledge hockey.


The camp will be run by Canadian personnel and sports experts who’ll also host the visitors on extracurricular snowmobiling and dog-sledding trips.


This program aims to improve self-confidence, which benefits the rehabilitation and recovery process. It also helps members to transition back to a more active lifestyle including doing more with their families.


Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Retd)

11 February 2015

National President’s Newsletter No 6 of 2014


  1. RSL help for the Wounded Injured and Ill at the Invictus Games.


Many RSL members will have seen some of the extensive television and media coverage of the Invictus Games held in London last month. The effort put in by the RSL throughout the nation in actively supporting this event was highly commendable and was most favourably commented upon by many. I send my gratitude to all who provided that support.


In conveying this thanks I would be remiss if I did not single out one person in particular. NSW Branch State Councillor Mr Darren McManus- Smith organised and managed the RSL supported part of the team and worked tirelessly to ensure it was successfully integrated with the ADF supported part of the team. He did a superb job, a fact recently commented upon in a laudatory letter sent by the Head of the ADF staff at the Australian High Commission in London.


The RSL supported contingent numbered 21 and formed part of a total of 36. The team was warmly welcomed in the UK by teams from other nations and by those organising this most significant and important international event. Each team member was accompanied by a supporter with the RSL providing over $300,000 to ensure all needs were met.


Prior to the commencement of the Games, the entire team and supporters attended a reception at Australia House, London at which all had the opportunity of meeting and talking to His Royal Highness Prince Harry, the driving force behind the staging of the event.


During subsequent competition the Australian Invictus Games team acquitted themselves with great distinction, participated to the full and based on the discussions I had with many were helped significantly in their rehabilitation by their participation. All strove to give of their best and the friendly rivalry between teams and individuals from many nations did not overshadow the aim of the games in helping individual team members overcome the health setbacks they had experienced as a consequence of service in defence of the nation.


The challenge which participants, the ADF and the RSL now face is how best to assist the ongoing recovery of these folk and the many others similarly afflicted who were not able to participate in the Invictus Games.


In an attempt to quantify the health and wellbeing benefits gained by Invictus Games participants we are compiling as comprehensive a documentary as possible from the RSL supported members of the team. We will use this in further discussions with the ADF and in planning the way ahead.


A Recovery Summit was held on the penultimate day of competition to provide the leaders of national delegations with an opportunity of looking to the future and discussing outcomes and ideas. This was chaired by the UK’s Chief of Defence Personnel, Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory and was addressed by Prince Harry.


In a recent letter General Gregory has advised that it is possible a new international forum on recovery may be formed. It is likely this will be kicked off by participation in a planned US Department of Defense symposium in 2015 titled “Warrior Care in the 21st Century.”


  1. RSL National Board Meeting Perth 27 October 2014.


Major topics for discussion or decision at the final Board meeting for 2014 include:

  • an RSL Strategic Plan
  • a Business Plan for the RSL National Office
  • revision of the RSL National Constitution
  • Plans for the 2016 RSL National Conference the year of the RSL


  • Reports from RSL National Committees including submissions about

the forthcoming Defence White Paper and the ADF Pay Case (see



To dispel misunderstandings which may have developed about the revision of RSL National Constitution I affirm that the first draft forwarded to all Branches earlier this year was exactly that – a first draft. It was the initiating action in a multi-step but essential consultative process needed to allow us to update this important document. No further work has been undertaken on the first draft pending receipt of comments and suggestions from Sub Branches and Branches. I encourage all members to become involved in this process and focus on constructive comment aimed at improving the draft. Central questions all might ask is how best can the RSL marshal and deploy our very significant human and financial resources in the years ahead to further promote our objects? And how can this be best expressed in our National Constitution?


  1. ADF Pay Case.


The RSL submission to the Defence Force Remuneration

Tribunal for the recent pay case given the title of “WRA” (Workplace Remuneration Arrangement) was forwarded on 19 October 2014. It read: “The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) would like to thank the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) for the opportunity to make a submission on the 2014 Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (Matter no.9 of 2014).


The RSL cannot support the proposal as currently proposed for

consideration by the DFRT. The RSL cannot support any outcome from

the current WRA round that does not protect the value of ADF

Remuneration, especially where this will involve trade-offs of other

conditions of service.


We advise that we seek an outcome that supports the special nature of

defence service in determining all conditions of service for members of

the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and we express our disappointment

for a proposal which involves the trading-off of leave (and other

conditions) for pay rises which are less than CPI.


The RSL notes the WRA to be put forward for DFRT consideration is an

agreed position between the ADF and the Commonwealth, and in these

circumstances we do not oppose the proposal before the DFRT, but seek

to register our concern that the financial position of ADF personnel is

not being maintained at a time when Australia is asking significantly

more of our servicemen and women. We do note and support the

statement of the Chief of Defence (CDF) in his CDF Signal, released on

Friday 10 October 2014, that should circumstances require the

arrangement may be revisited and the CDF is able to return the matter

to the DFRT during the WRA period.”



Members may recall that on your behalf I have written previously to Government expressing concern about the process now in vogue which almost always results in the Government and the ADF presenting “agreed” ADF pay cases to the DFRT. We were rebuffed in our previous attempt to have this process revert to the procedure of yesteryear where most often the CDF presented a pay case on behalf of ADF personnel and the Government separately put its point of view. We intend raising this matter again.


At the recent DFRT hearing of the WRA case, the RSL was represented by the National Policy Advisor who spoke about the RSL concerns. At the time of writing the DFRT continues to reserve its decision about this pay case.


  1. RSL Annual Budget Submission.


Sincere thanks to all who put in considerable effort to allow the RSL to compile a detailed and comprehensive Submission to Government for the 2015/2016 Federal Budget. As previously advised this submission was more expansive than earlier versions in that we advised Government and the Opposition of what the RSL was achieving on behalf of the ex-service and veteran community and more broadly the Australian community. Amongst other matters we wrote that “the majority of ‘heavy lifting’ in the Welfare space is done by our volunteer Welfare Officers in the 1,200 sub Branches across Australia. It is conservatively estimated that these volunteer hours totalled 1,368,750 for the year 2013. At the nominal rate of $25 per hour this equates to a contribution to the nation of over $34M.”


That the Commonwealth Government respects and heeds what the RSL submits is evidenced by the text of a letter I have received from the Prime Minister. In his letter of 16 October 2014 Mr Abbott wrote “Thank you for your letter dated 29 August 2014 and the attached submission in regard to Veterans’ Affairs issues for consideration in the 2015-16 Federal Budget.


I appreciate the time you and the National Board and Members of the Returned and Services League of Australia have taken to consider these important issues.



I have referred your letter to the Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey MP, who has portfolio responsibility for the Federal Budget. I have also provided a copy of your letter to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson.


Once again, thank you for bringing these matters to my attention.”


  1. 2015 Defence White Paper RSL Input.


We are on track to complete and forward a substantial submission for consideration by the team charged by Government with compiling the proposed 2015 Defence White Paper. Given the current and foreseeable uncertain strategic outlook this statement of Government policy will be of particular importance and it is to be hoped will take account of submissions from organisations such as the RSL.


Members of the National Defence and Defence Personnel and Families Committees have made significant contributions to our input and are deserving of our thanks.


  1. Significant Diary Events.


During the past few months I have had the privilege of meeting many RSL members at various events. Attendance at the Invictus Games in September and at the Annual General Meeting of the Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association in October provided me with the opportunity of meeting with many of our international colleagues and of advising about current RSL issues. In mid- September it was a great pleasure to host one of two London based Royal Commonwealth Ex-Service League representatives at the Australian War Memorial when Viscount Slim visited Australia. He has for many years represented the RSL most ably at the regular London RCEL meetings and I am most grateful for his diligence in so doing.


On 23/24 September I much enjoyed the hospitality of the Bundaberg Sub-Branch as they and others came together to commemorate the Centenary of the departure of Army Nurses to World War 1. Then on

11 October I was honoured to attend and address the very large gathering who attended the dedication at Hervey Bay of the magnificent new Memorial in the shape of a mounted member of the Light Horse at Hervey Bay. The Sub-Branch President John Kelsey, the Committee and members of the Hervey Bay Sub-Branch worked tirelessly with the local community to bring this important memorial to the ANZAC Centenary to fruition and are to be commended on a job extremely well done. It certainly showed what the RSL can do in fostering community spirit and of reminding all of what this important centenary means. Most recently I travelled to Brisbane to attend the funeral of the late Viv Quinn, a tireless worker on behalf of so many members of the RSL not only in Queensland but across the nation. I thank the Gaythorne Sub-Branch President and his Committee for the warmth of the welcome I was accorded during the wake following the funeral.

Vale Army’s First RSM-A WO1 Wally Thompson

Wally ThompsonSad news – Warrant Officer Wally Thompson – the first Regimental Sergeant Major – ARMY has passed away today, a true gentleman and a soldiers soldier.

Stand-down Sir, your duty is done.

Duty First – Lest We Forget
Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Wallace (Wally) Talbot Claxton Thompson joined the Citizen’s Military Forces (CMF) in 1950 and was called up in 1951 for National Service. He did two tours of Malaysia, on the second occasion serving with the British Army, then went to Vietnam in 1964 with the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. He served a second tour with the First Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), fighting in 1968 and again in 1971 as RSM of 4RAR.

In 1983 he became the first appointee to the position of Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A), which put him in a position where he reported directly to the Chief of the General Staff.

George Sullivan

G. Sullivan (also known as George Sullivan) was a trooper in the 2nd Australian Light Horse in the Australian Army. His service number is 1732 and he fought in the First World War, 1914-1918. He was born in Chalmer Queensland, Australia and died in Egypt on the 12 of August 1916 of wounds. He was 18 years old when he embarked on his journey “The Star of England”. He was 19 when he died. He was honour at Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. His parents are Annie Eleanor Sullivan and George Sullivan, who were married in 1897 and gave birth to him on 1898; he resided in Golf Street, Chalmer. His religion is the Church of England and his status is single.

George Sullivan’s name on a plague
George Sullivan’s name on a plague

The 2nd Light Horse Regiment was formed as part of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, 1st Contingent and attached to the Australian Division at Enoggera Training Camp to the west of Brisbane, Queensland, on 18 August 1914. Training of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment occurred at Enoggera Training Camp from August until September 1914.
Embarkation of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment occurred by the HMAT A15 Star Of England from Pinkenbar Wharf in Brisbane, Queensland, on 24 September 1914.
The 2nd Light Horse Regiment sailed by convoy from Albany and passed by the action against the Emden at the Cocos Islands. The Star of England disembarked the 2nd Light Horse Regiment in Egypt on 9 December 1914. As mounted troops, the Light Horse was considered to be unsuitable for work in Gallipoli. The mounted troops volunteered to operate as infantry and thus were sent to Gallipoli with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment landing on 12 May 1915. They were used in offensive activities once, which was the attack on a Turkish position opposite Quinn’s outpost. The 2nd Light Horse Regiment was withdrawn from the front line in September and left the peninsula on 18 December 1915. After the return to Egypt, the 2nd Light Horse Regiment reformed and re-equipped. The reorganisation of the Light Horse led to the formation of the ANZAC Mounted Division, which the 2nd Light Horse Regiment became a foundation member. For the first fove months of 1916, between January and May, the 2nd Light Horse regiment was deployed throughout the Nile valley to defend the Egyptian economic centres from the interruption by the Senussi infiltrating the Siwa Oasis. May 14 1916, the 2nd Light Horse Regiment moved to join is parent brigade, the 1st Light Horse Brigade, which was taking part in the defence of the Suez Canal. It was hot and monotonous work, but they remained there until they moved to the Romani region to bolster the defence of that area. The 1st Light Horse Brigade played an important role in beating back the Turkish invasion of the Suez Canal zone at Romani. Known as the battle of Romani, which lasted from the 4th the 6th of August which was quickly followed by the Battle of Katia and then Bir el Abd on 9th August. All the actions which the 2nd Horse Regiment undertook finally led the Defeat of the Ottoman Canal Expeditionary force and it’s retreat to Bir el Mazar. Over the next few months, the 2nd Light Horse Regiment took part in the Allied advance over the Sinai leading to the fall of Bir el Mazar, then El Arish followed by Bir el Magdhaba and finally Rafa in January of 1917.
George Sullivan died from wounds on the 12th August 1916 from wounds. It is thought he was wounded either in the battle at Bir el Abd or in the Allied Advance over the Sinai.

The map of the Battle of Romani

The map of the Battle of Romani

The Battle of Romani lines

The Battle of Romani lines


The light horses during the Battle of Romani

The light horses during the Battle of Romani


View digital copy for more visual information

Over the Front

  Congratulations to former Army General & Chief of the Defence Force Peter Cosgrove on his appointment as our next Governor-General.  In this year marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War and next years commemoration of the Gallipoli landings, it is appropriate that a military man is in our highest office at this time.

  Two Bristol Fighters of the Australian Flying Corps c. 1918  see 200 page novel on RAAF Formation


We often think of Army soldiers as our “Diggers” but they are also the airmen and sailors of the Air Force and Navy.  “Going over the Top” was what our soldiers did in the trenches of WWI but the foundations of the RAAF were also established 100 years ago during that conflict by the men of the Australian Flying Corp who went “Over the Front”.   Established in 1912 as a branch of the Army, the AFC sent an aircraft to assist in capturing German colonies in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in 1914, well before the Gallipoli campaign.  These airmen served in the Middle East, Egypt and France during the war, often flying low level combat air support by strafing and bombing enemy lines.  Other duties included air reconnaissance and artillery spotting along with air-to-air fighting engaging enemy planes.   In 1921 the Royal Australian Air Force was founded and continues the fine traditions established by the AFC in WWI.  The RAAF has taken part in many of the 20th century’s major conflicts including the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. More recently the RAAF participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and is still involved with the War in Afghanistan. The motto on the RAAF’s coat of arms is the Latin phrase Per ardua ad astra, which means “Through Adversity to the Stars”   Across this year in 2014 we will begin to look at the traditions and accomplishments of our Defence Force 100 years ago along with the men and women who serve our great nation.           “Lest We Forget”