The Defence Department has delivered a comprehensive and stern rebuttal to allegations levelled at its second in command over his relationship with a fellow naval officer, who is now his wife.
During a parliamentary hearing in February, crossbench senators Rex Patrick and Fraser Anning raised questions about when Vice Admiral Ray Griggs declared his new relationship to Defence, and the circumstances in which his partner had been promoted to Naval Commander.
Defence Chief Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin told the committee two investigations had been carried out into the Vice Admiral’s “changed personal circumstances” and had cleared his deputy of any breach of policy.
“We’re talking about family separation, it’s deeply personal, it’s emotive,” Air Marshal Binskin told the hearing.
The Defence Chief said it was not in the best interests of the individuals involved to canvass the details.
Now in written responses provided to the senators, the Defence Department has strongly rejected accusations made in the media against the Vice Chief, who was considered a leading contender to become Australia’s next Chief of Defence.
“Recent reporting contains inaccuracies and unsubstantiated allegations. The implied criticisms featured in recent media reporting are unjustified,” the Defence Department said in a statement.
In its formal answers to numerous questions placed on notice in February, Defence has taken particular exception to suggestions Vice Admiral Griggs may not be a suitable White Ribbon Ambassador, to prevent men’s violence against women.
“The VCDF has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce the incidence of domestic violence within Defence, which saw him driving the accreditation of Navy as a White Ribbon workplace when he was the Chief of Navy,” the Defence Department said.
“He has spoken publicly of his commitment to White Ribbon being borne out of his own experiences in his youth.
“There is no relevant correlation between the role of White Ribbon Ambassador and the recent reporting referred to in the question.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was asked whether the recent commentary about Vice Admiral Griggs had influenced his decision to overlook him in favour of Angus Campbell for the country’s top defence job.
“Vice Admiral Griggs, [is] an outstanding officer, an outstanding leader. But you know, there is only one person that can be the Chief of the Defence Force,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.
“I have to make the decision ultimately as to who I regard as the best person for the role and my decision has been that Angus Campbell is the best person for this job.”
Malcolm Turnbull announced Lieutenant General Angus Campbell’s new position. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)