Thursday, 18 June 2020
I, and also on behalf of Senator Patrick, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) suicide by current and former Australian Defence Force members continues to claim at least a life a week,
(iii) on 27 February 2020, the Senate disagreed with the Prime Minister;
(b) again condemns the Morrison Government's proposed National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention as a poor imitation of a Royal Commission;
(c) believes that nothing short of a Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide can address this painful and ongoing scourge;
(d) expresses its view that:
(i) the Prime Minister's National Commissioner will have neither the power, nor the resources, of a Royal Commission, and can in no way be considered "bigger and better",
(ii) any insistence on this unproven, experimental model over the proven and successful model of a Royal Commission is made knowing that it risks making things worse, not better;
(e) calls on the Morrison Government to establish a Royal Commission into Veterans' Suicide, with a clear start and end date; and
(f) invites the Royal Commissioner to recommend that a standing, permanent capability be established to oversee reform, should the Commissioner see fit to do so.
I thank Senator Lambie and Senator Patrick for bringing this motion in. The death by suicide of any Australian Defence Force member or veteran is tragic for the family, for the defence and veteran community and, indeed, for the wider Australian community. The government is committed to taking action to prevent these deaths. The Morrison government will soon establish a new National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention to inquire into the deaths by suicide of former and serving ADF members. Like a royal commission, the national commissioner will have powers to undertake full inquiries into suicides and suspected suicides of former and serving ADF members, identify the issues that may be contributing to those suicides and make recommendations to the government about actions to prevent future suicides. Unlike a royal commission, this will be a permanent and ongoing function. The government will soon announce the national commissioner and pass legislation this year, which will be available for consultation.