Mr STEPHEN SMITH (Perth—Minister for Defence) (9.32 am)—Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The SPEAKER—Does the member claim to have been misrepresented?
Mr STEPHEN SMITH—Yes.
The SPEAKER—Please proceed.
Mr STEPHEN SMITH— Last night on the ABC, on ABC1 7 pm news, the ABC ran a story which asserted that a video of an Australian Defence Force operation in Afghanistan had not been made public because ‘the defence minister’s office kept it under wraps for months’.
That assertion was supported in the story by comments from former Chief of Army Peter Leahy. That assertion is completely false. There is no basis nor evidence for such a claim made by the ABC. Indeed, the first time I saw the video was this morning.
The facts are these. Release of videos of operations in Afghanistan are decisions for defence officers and defence officials either in Afghanistan or in Canberra. Those decisions are made on the basis of operational security. Those decisions are not for me.
These videos do not come to me or my office for decision making. The ABC reported this story, despite being advised by my office before the report went to air that this was the case. The system has been in place for a number of years. It is the same system that applied when Mr Leahy was Chief of Army. I am not aware of any suggestions by Mr Leahy as Chief of Army that the system should be changed.
I thank the House.