The Army Reserve sacked Federal Liberal MP Andrew Hastie for not removing an image of himself in uniform from campaign material. In his defense over claims that he is trying to politicize the army, the MP accused former Lieutenant General David Morrison of doing the same.
“David Morrison politicized the ADF long before I ever put my mug on a billboard. In fact, he hastened my exit from the army into politics,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Hastie as saying about the Australian of the Year.
A spokesperson for the Defence said that they follow a system in which the Australian Defence Force is kept apolitical.
“As a condition of their service, regular and reserve members of the Australian Defence Force are obliged to comply with various Defence instructions and policies,” the ABC quoted the spokesperson as saying. “ADF members are therefore not permitted to participate in any political activity in uniform unless they are pre-approved to do so by an appropriate authority.”
He added that the Defence contacted Hastie, who is a member of the standby Army Reserve, and requested him to remove the image of himself in uniform from the campaign material, but 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,” the spokesperson said. “Mr. Hastie’s service has since been terminated.”
The former special forces soldier told the 6PR radio in Perth that officials were using policies to try and push him around and that he had to decide who he was answerable to. “After reviewing the constitution, I came down to the position it was the people of Canning,” Hastie said. “As a federal parliamentarian, I don’t take orders from the military.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott campaigned with Hastie on Wednesday. Hastie said that the image in question from a 2009 campaign material gave voters an insight into his personal history.