Veterans Hit Out At Australian Of The Year David Morrison

30/01/2016 9:19 AM AEDT | Updated January 30, 2016 09:19
Martin Ollman via Getty Images

Some war veterans have slammed the appointment of former army boss David Morrison as Australian of the Year, labelling the choice as "sickening" after the former Chief of Army didn't nominate veterans' issues as a priority in his new role.

The ABC reports that anger is mounting among veterans about the appointment after Morrison said nothing about the welfare of veterans in his opening address in his new role.

Former soldier Geoff Shafran told the ABC he was shocked to hear General Morrison talk about pushing ahead with a republic as a priority while saying nothing about veterans' welfare.

"When you can get on at an Australia Day speech and discuss the republic and not allude to veterans' issues when he had I think it's 13 soldiers who were actually killed overseas while he was chief of army, it's just turning your back on these people," he told the ABC.

Shafran wants Morrison to step aside as Australian of the Year and has set up an online petition calling for him to step down.

"It's actually calling for the, essentially the resignation of David Morrison as Australian of the Year, and also for him to relinquish the title of general because he, in my opinion, demonstrated a lack of leadership by not alluding to veterans' issues on his pre-Australia Day speech," he said.

The Defence Force Welfare Association is said to have been inundated with correspondence from veterans who are disappointed with Morrison as the choice for Australian of the Year.

The latest critique of Morrison comes after his former speech writer, Catherine McGregor, this week labelled his appointment as "weak".

She said she felt really sad the board of the National Australia Day Council 'did not have the courage to go with an LGBTI person'.

'I thought it was time ... it was a weak and conventional choice,' she told the Star Observer.

'I think I'll die without seeing a trans Australian of the Year and I think that's terribly sad,' McGregor said.

Not-for-profit organisation Walking Wounded, which provides psychological support for returned soldiers, has defended Morrison as a choice.

"Following a 40 year career serving for our country, David is a well deserving recipient of the Australian of the Year title," Walking Wounded CEO Brian Freeman said.

"David oversaw some of the worst years our defence personnel have ever endured, and I can guarantee experiences like that aren't quickly forgotten or dismissed.

He said Morrison was committed to the cause of veterans' affairs.

"I have no doubt that David will continue to shine a spotlight on veterans over the coming twelve months in his newly appointed role, as he has done in the years leading up to this recognition."

Morrison made headlines in 2013 when he posted a public video message in response to the rife sexual abuse in the army, telling officers who were demeaning women to ‘get out’ as the army would no longer tolerate it.

"They (female soldiers) are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future," he said.

"If that does not suit you then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable but I doubt it," Morrison said in the video which has gained more than 1.5 million views.

Since leaving the army, Morrison has been appointed Chair of the Diversity Council Australia.

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