MP dumped by Army Reserve over uniform campaign ads

By Harley Dennett

June 9, 2016

He was warned and he didn’t listen. The Western Australian MP Andrew Hastie has been sacked from the Standby Army Reserve, local media reported on Thursday.

The West Australian newspaper says the Department of Defence confirmed Hastie’s service termination following earlier warnings, both direct and to the entire Australian Defence Force.

“Defence contacted Mr Hastie, a member of the standby Army reserve, and requested he remove imagery of himself in uniform from election campaign material. Regrettably, Mr Hastie did not comply. Accordingly, the army issued Mr Hastie with a notice indicating the intention to terminate his service because he had failed to comply with directions and Defence policy. Mr Hastie’s service has since been terminated.”

Earlier ADF chief Mark Binskin wrote to all service members to explain the reason for the ban on campaigning in uniform:

“There is no limit on holding personal political opinions and expressing them as private citizens. However, to preserve the ADF’s political neutrality, it is essential that members of the ADF do not associate or identity the ADF with the expression of their private opinions.

“Associating the ADF with private views may give the impression to other members of the public that the ADF endorses or agrees with particular points of view.”

The Australian Public Service Commission published a similar memo to Commonwealth public servants.

But Hastie was not convinced, telling the West Australian: “The ADF should be proud too that they have former ADF personnel on both sides of politics … [former Chief of Army and 2016 Australian of the Year] David Morrison politicised the ADF long before I ever put my mug on a billboard. In fact, he hastened my exit from the army into politics.”

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