HMAS Success is a supply ship used for the supply of fuel, ammunition, food and stores to naval units at sea.
In March 2009 Success left Sydney for a deployment to South-East Asia and China.
Between March and May 2009, incidents of unacceptable behaviour were brought to attention.
Allegations included: inappropriate conduct towards women; workforce bullying; tribal culture on board the ship; drunken and disreputable behaviour while ashore; a breakdown in discipline; and serious failures of command.
These incidents were the subject of an internal Defence inquiry, a Senate Estimates examination and a Senate inquiry.
In March 2010 the then Chief of the Defence Force commissioned Roger Gyles QC to conduct an independent Commission of Inquiry into these matters.
On 22 February, I tabled a redacted version of Part One of the Commission of Inquiry report, which made very sorry reading about the failure of personal conduct, the failure of discipline, the failure of authority and the inappropriate culture aboard HMAS Success.
Last month I received Part Two of the Report.
Part Two deals with Navy administrative inquiries, the management of three landed senior sailors, response to media queries and reporting, the treatment of the legal officer representing the landed senior sailors and Australian Defence Force Investigative Service investigations.
Part Two identifies a number of very significant shortcomings in the management of the three landed senior sailors. As a result they suffered an injustice, for which Mr Gyles recommends both an apology and compensation.
The Report also rejects criticisms of bias made of a 2009 Defence inquiry into allegations onboard HMAS Success.
I have just tabled a redacted version of Part Two of Mr Gyles’ report.
The redactions are made on legal advice to prevent the identification of individuals who may be the subject of disciplinary procedures.
I have provided a copy of the full Report in confidence to: Senator Mark Bishop, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee; Senator Kroger, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade References Committee; and Senator Johnston, the Shadow Minister for Defence.
This satisfies undertakings made to keep the Senate fully informed of these matters.
The Chief of the Defence Force and the Chief of Navy have accepted the findings and recommendations and will take action on all of Mr Gyles’ recommendations.
This includes a properly framed apology to the three landed senior sailors from the Chief of the Navy for the failure to accord them proper process, and an offer to make a payment of monetary compensation for each of them.
It also includes an apology to the authors of the 2009 inquiry from the Chief of the Defence Force and the Chief of the Navy.
Part Three of Mr Gyles’ Report will examine in more detail the conduct of administrative inquiries and wider considerations such as the interplay between enforcement of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982, administrative decisions, redresses of grievance and the role of equity and diversity policy.
A redacted version of the report is available from the following link: http://www.defence.gov.au/coi/success/index.htm.
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999