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April 14, 2021

With the Victorian Coalition Opposition’s announcement that they support a Royal Commission into veteran suicide, it’s now time for Scott Morrison to finally act and call a Royal Commission into this national tragedy.

Labor welcomes the Victorian Opposition Leader’s announcement. We agree that the Morrison Government’s proposed National Commissioner for veteran suicide will not be enough and the best way to honour our ex-service personnel would be to have a Royal Commission.

It is a national disgrace that more veterans have died by suicide than in war in the past 20 years, and veterans are dying at twice the rate of suicide of the general population. We need answers why this is occurring so we can fix this tragedy.

Labor has called for a Royal Commission into veteran suicides since December 2019, and when Parliament last sat, a motion to support a Royal Commission passed both houses.

The Government’s position that it is open to a Royal Commission into veteran suicide but determined to have a ‘standing Royal Commission’ in tandem with this are weasel words.

Many veterans and families do not support the Government’s proposed standing National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, and the legislation is stalled in the Senate.

Labor has always said it is open to a permanent body to tackle this issue in an ongoing way, but only if it is a recommendation of an independent Royal Commission, which must happen first.

With the Victorian Coalition Opposition’s announcement, they now join the Federal Parliament, experts, affected families, RSL Queensland, RSL Tasmania, RSL New South Wales and RSL Victoria, who all support a Royal Commission into veteran suicide.

Scott Morrison needs to listen to these groups, respect the will of the Parliament and call a stand-alone Royal Commission immediately, with clear timelines and detailed Terms of Reference.

It’s clear there is now overwhelming support for this, so the Government needs to stop delaying and call a Royal Commission now.