Labor to vote against plan for veteran suicide commissioner
Labor to vote against plan for veteran suicide commissioner

Labor rejects plan for veterans suicide commissioner

The future of a proposed new veterans suicide commissioner to investigate the deaths of Aussie Diggers is in doubt after Labor decided not to back the legislation.

The Opposition has decided it won't back the federal government's proposed national Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention amid concern it does not go far enough to address the alarmingly high rate of ADF personnel who take their own lives.

The Daily Telegraph understands Labor leader Anthony Albanese will instead call for a full royal commission into the issue, despite assurances from the federal government that a permanent commissioner would have the same powers.

Previously Labor's veterans spokesman Shayne Neumann has said Labor's preference "at the outset" was for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide to "shine a light on this serious issue and really get to the bottom of it".

Australian soldiers on deployment in Afghanistan. Picture: Department of Defence
Australian soldiers on deployment in Afghanistan. Picture: Department of Defence

"We cautiously welcomed the Government's announcement earlier this year of a permanent National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention as a step forward in this area," he said last month.

"But since then, like many veterans and their families, we've become concerned that a National Commissioner won't have all the powers of a Royal Commission as the Government has claimed."

Mr Neumann said the Commissioner wouldn't have the "resources" of the independence from government to "ask the really hard questions" that Royal Commission could.

"We think a standing commissioner should be informed by the recommendations of a royal commission."

Without Labor's support the government will need the Senate crossbench to pass the legislation, but some members including Senator Jacqui Lambie, have already indicated they won't support it.

The proposed commissioner was created following The Daily Telegraph's Save Our Heroes campaign.

Originally published as Labor rejects plan for veterans suicide commissioner



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