Digger’s Victoria Cross rejection reasoning was ‘false’
A LETTER from the Defence Honours tribunal chief to Defence Minister Linda Reynolds confirms her decision to reject the recommendation to posthumously award Tasmanian war hero Edward 'Teddy' Sheean a Victoria Cross was wrong, says Guy Barnett.
The Veterans' Affairs Minister yesterday addressed the media after an exclusive report in The Australian newspaper revealed details of the letter.
Mr Barnett said Mark Sullivan, chair of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal, had written to Senator Reynolds over her justification for denying a VC to World War II legend Sheean, and seeking a correction to the record.
The Australian yesterday reported that Mr Sullivan's letter accused Senator Reynolds of misleading the Senate about her decision to reject the tribunal's unanimous decision, saying she "misrepresented" facts and made "false" statements.
"You have misrepresented the statutory function of the tribunal, particularly in respect of its 2019 review into the Sheean matter, and misstated the standing of a purportedly clear government policy," Mr Sullivan wrote.
"These two statements make your answer to the Senate misleading and in need of correction."
Senator Reynolds last week formally rejected the tribunal's unanimous verdict that Sheean was worthy of a VC.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said consideration of the awarding of the VC would only occur in light of compelling new evidence or if there was evidence of manifest injustice.
Mr Barnett yesterday backed Mr Sullivan, saying the Federal Government's rejection of the tribunal's finding was "a breach of process" and its reasoning was "false".
He said new and compelling evidence was presented after "substantial" research, and included witness statements from seamen who had served with Sheean, and the evidence had not been disputed.
"This is an opportunity now for the Federal Government to review the process, to reverse the denial of natural justice and justice for Teddy, and the family, and the veterans, and in fact all of us, to get the decision right," he said.
"The Tasmanian Government has been in contact with the Prime Minister and we are awaiting further feedback. Let's make it very clear, the tribunal decision was unanimous."
Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean, 18, was born in Latrobe, and died strapped to his gun after shooting down at least one Japanese aircraft while trying to save his shipmates as they escaped the sinking HMAS Armidale in 1942.
A Federal Government spokesman last week said its decision was final.
Originally published as Digger's Victoria Cross rejection reasoning was 'false'