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April 04, 2021

Defence Minister Dutton’s vague comments in support of a “standing” Royal Commission are welcome, belated, but lacking any substantive detail.
Scott Morrison needs to listen to veterans, advocates and the will of the Parliament and establish a Royal Commission into veteran suicide immediately, including clear timelines and detailed terms of reference.
Minister Dutton’s comment that the Government has “been very open to a Royal Commission, not opposed to a Royal Commission, but we want it in concert to an existing arrangement…” is a rhetorical crabwalk towards a Royal Commission, but sadly one that doesn’t deliver for veterans and their families.
As the motion that passed both houses of Parliament almost a fortnight ago notes, Australian Defence Force personnel have a suicide rate nearly twice that of the wider Australian community. More veterans have died by suicide than in war in the past 20 years.
Labor said during the debate on the motion that the one question remaining is: what will the government do about it?
The passing of the bipartisan motion was very important but it will amount to nothing if the Government doesn't announce a Royal Commission, doesn't publicly release draft terms of reference, doesn't foreshadow the time lines that are required for a new examination of this absolutely critical matter, and doesn't ensure and make a commitment to responding properly and fairly to the recommendations of that Royal Commission.
The lack of action is a black mark against us as a nation that we have allowed so many people who have served their country to needlessly die.
These are the people who put on our uniform, in our name, to protect our nation.
We owe it to those that have gone, but it is essential for those who remain.
Labor has called for a Royal Commission into veteran suicides since December 2019, and we are pleased this is something the Parliament now wants too.
Labor co-signed the motion that passed the Senate along with the Greens and crossbench Senators, laterpassing unopposed in the House.
A Royal Commission is what veterans and families want, it’s what the experts want, and it’s what thousands of Australians want.
Now we know it’s what the Parliament wants too.
Scott Morrison needs to do the right thing and give the grieving families of veterans the proper investigation they deserve.
The Prime Minister needs to act now, not crabwalk into the right position through the rhetorical support of his Ministers.