Two-faced min­is­ter

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - CLARE ARM­STRONG & ADELLA BEAINI

STATE gov­ern­ments are lin­ing up to sup­port calls for a royal com­mis­sion into the shock­ing rate of mil­i­tary sui­cide, while the fed­eral min­is­ter in charge of vet­eran care has been ac­cused of un­der­min­ing the cam­paign to se­cure one.

Veter­ans’ Af­fairs Min­is­ter Dar­ren Ch­ester was ac­cused in a fiery in­ter­view with 2GB ra­dio host Ben Ford­ham of be­ing “pri­vately crit­i­cal” of The Daily Tele­graph’s Save Our He­roes cam­paign.

“Pri­vately you are be­ing ex­tremely crit­i­cal of the Save Our He­roes cam­paign … so don’t pre­tend you’re a fan,” Ford­ham told the min­is­ter.

It is un­der­stood Mr Ch­ester’s so­cial me­dia ac­count wrote to a prom­i­nent mem­ber of the me­dia say­ing the Save Our He­roes cam­paign caused “more harm than good”.

Queens­land premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk yes­ter­day backed a royal com­mis­sion.

STATE gov­ern­ments are lin­ing up to back calls for a royal com­mis­sion into the shock­ing rate of mil­i­tary sui­cide, while the fed­eral min­is­ter in charge of vet­eran care has been pri­vately crit­i­cis­ing the cam­paign to make it hap­pen.

Veter­ans’ Af­fairs Min­is­ter Dar­ren Ch­ester (pic­tured right) has de­nied any sug­ges­tion he is try­ing to un­der­mine The Daily Tele­graph’s Save Our He­roes cam­paign.

In a fiery in­ter­view 2GB ra­dio host Ben Ford­ham yes­ter­day ac­cused Mr Ch­ester of be­ing “pri­vately crit­i­cal” of the cam­paign.

“I have spo­ken to The Daily Tele­graph and sup­ported them in their cam­paign,” Mr Ch­ester said.

Ford­ham hit back sug­gest­ing Mr Ch­ester was not telling the full story.

“Are you se­ri­ously telling me that,” Ford­ham asked.

“No you are not are you, be­cause pri­vately you are be­ing ex­tremely crit­i­cal of the Save Our He­roes cam­paign … so don’t pre­tend you’re a fan even if you’ve sucked up to them in hind­sight and telling them you are.”

It is un­der­stood Mr Ch­ester’s so­cial me­dia ac­count wrote to prom­i­nent mem­bers of the me­dia sev­eral months ago say­ing the Save Our He­roes cam­paign caused “more harm than good”.

“If we por­tray (veter­ans) all as bro­ken, it be­comes im­pos­si­ble to get them jobs af­ter ser­vice,” the mes­sage said.

The Min­is­ter’s of­fice did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment be­fore dead­line.

Mean­while, Queens­land La­bor Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk has given her full sup­port to a royal com­mis­sion, while South Aus­tralia’s Lib­eral Premier Steven Marshall has also in­di­cated sup­port. “Veter­ans’ sui­cide is a na­tional tragedy and a royal com­mis­sion cer­tainly de­serves con­sid­er­a­tion,” Mr Marshall said.

A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said she sup­ported the call and would “like to see more done for veter­ans in the first place”.

A spokes­woman for the Vic­to­rian govern­ment said the state was al­ready look­ing into sup­port and ser­vices pro­vided to veter­ans in its own royal com­mis­sion into men­tal health. “This shouldn’t be a par­ti­san is­sue and we would wel­come any fed­eral in­volve­ment,” she said.

It comes as La­bor leader An­thony Albanese ex­pressed full sup­port for a royal com­mis­sion.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son is un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to call the in­quiry and said yes­ter­day he would con­sider all op­tions over the Christ­mas break.

“I’ve given an un­der­tak­ing that we will con­tinue to re­flect on these things over the break be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion on this matter.

“But I can as­sure you of this — what I am seek­ing to do is en­sure that when­ever a vet­eran has sadly taken their life … that on ev­ery sin­gle oc­ca­sion there must be jus­tice, there must be ac­count­abil­ity, there must be learn­ings and there must be change,” the PM said.

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