Labor senator Kristina Keneally has hit out at Defence Minister Peter Dutton after he reportedly ordered serving military personnel to put an end to events with “particular clothes in celebration”, after staff were encouraged to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.
Speaking to the ABC on Saturday morning, Kristina Keneally accused Mr Dutton of being a “warmonger”.
“The Australian Defence Forces personnel are drawn from the Australian community, which is diverse,” she said. “One of the great things about Australia is that we celebrate our multiculturalism and diversity, and I applauded the ADF for doing so.
“I will say this, Peter Dutton is a warmonger. He is a warmonger, and whether it comes to picking fights with countries in our region, pitching culture war fights, Peter Dutton likes to be a warmonger, and frankly he is the wrong person for the defence minister portfolio.
“Some of our best defence ministers – think of Kim Beazley – have understood that a defence minister is not about starting wars, it is about finding peace.”
On Friday, Nine newspapers reported that Mr Dutton had ordered Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell and Secretary Greg Moriarty to issue a note banning events with “particular clothes in celebration”.
“I’ve been very clear to the chiefs that I will not tolerate discrimination. But we are not pursuing a woke agenda,” Mr Dutton told Nine. “Our task is to build up the morale in the Australian Defence Force and these woke agendas don’t help.”
It came after the ADF and APS circulated a note encouraging staff “to acknowledge IDAHOBIT in a COVID-safe manner. Examples for activity include hosting morning teas, encouraging discussions regarding the importance of IDAHOBIT, raising awareness of LGBTI rights and wearing visible rainbow clothing or ally pins.”
The note said that the purpose was to demonstrate “support for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) colleagues, friends and family by standing against prejudice and discrimination, and demonstrating inclusion”.
But on Friday, Nine newspapers and ABC reported a new note was sent that banned events where employees wore “particular clothes in celebration”.
“Defence represents the people of Australia and must at all times be focused on our primary mission to protect Australia’s national security interests. We must not be putting effort into matters that distract from this.
“To meet these important aims, changing language protocols and those events such as morning teas where personnel are encouraged to wear particular clothes in celebration … are not required and should cease.
“We have made it clear to all Service Chiefs and Group Heads that combat and organisational capability is to be delivered through our well-developed training and education programs, exercises and operational experience, with respectful behaviours, underpinned by Defence values.”
SBS News has contacted Mr Dutton’s office for comment.