Golden Goose Shoes of

  • Gillard backs Smith over ADFA row

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confirmed her support Golden Goose Shoes of embattled Defence Minister Stephen Smith amid calls for him to apologise to the head of the Defence Force Academy (ADFA).

    Mr Smith has been under pressure since he refused to back away from criticism he made of Commodore Bruce Kafer and his handling of the so-called ADFA Skype sex scandal.

    In 2010, a cadet known as Kate alleged she had been filmed having sex with a fellow cadet while others watched via Skype in another room.

    Kate was facing disciplinary proceedings for a separate matter at the time, and Mr Smith was strident in his criticism of Commodore Kafer who allowed a disciplinary hearing to go ahead.

    An inquiry into the matter found that, overall, Commodore Kafer did not make an error of judgment and there was no legal basis to prevent him returning to the academy.

    Despite the inquiry's findings, Mr Smith has refused to express his confidence in the commodore.

    "It's not a matter of me having confidence in him, it's not my decision. It's a decision of the Chief of the Defence Force," Mr Smith said.

    "He and the Vice Chief, his commanding officers, have made a decision that is absolutely open to them given the Kirkham inquiry." Photo: Commodore Bruce Kafer will resume duties this week. (Australian Defence Force)

    But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says that is not good enough and he called for the Prime Minister to get involved.

    "He spent weeks taking public pot shots at a fine officer who has now been revealed to have acted in an exemplary fashion at all times," Mr Abbott said.

    "I think there should be an apology to Commandant Kafer. It should be immediate, it should be unreserved, it should be unqualified.

    "It should be made by Minister Smith now, and if Minister Smith lacks the decency and the humility to do it, the Prime Minister should do it."'Full confidence'A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister says Ms Gillard fully supports Mr Smith's attempt to improve the Defence Force culture, and has full confidence that the findings are being appropriately implemented.

    But Mr Abbott has questioned if there are any systemic cultural problems within Defence.

    "When bad things happen, justice should be done as quickly as possible," he said.

    "I have to say though that I am very reluctant to conclude that there is anything fundamentally wrong with Defence culture.

    "I'd like to think that our Defence Force personnel represent the best of us, not the worst of us.

    "I think we should support them and work with them to make our Defence Force is everything that people in the tradition of the Anzacs should be."Standards Audio: Smith under fire over criticism of ADFA head(PM)

    Mr Smith says the bulk of the reports released on Wednesday on the need for cultural change show standards must improve.

    "I'm very pleased with the document that the Chief and the Secretary tabled yesterday about the need for cultural change, the need to accept frankly that in the past Defence has not met the highest standards required, accept frankly that in the past there has been sometimes a tendency to turn a blind eye to inappropriate conduct," he said.

    "Those days are over and inappropriate conduct will now be viewed thorough the prism of the pathway to cultural change prepared and tabled yesterday by the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the department."

    Retired General Jim Molan and the Australia Defence Association have both been highly critical of Mr Smith and his relationship with the Defence hierarchy.

    But Mr Smith says their views should not be taken to represent those of existing service members.

    "I've seen references to difficult conversations. There's a difference between a difficult conversation and a conversation about dealing with difficult issues," he said.

    He says he has a good working relationship with the current Defence leadership group.