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Jeff Kennett: I hope the standards of awarding a Victoria Cross haven’t been lowered

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 1 November, 2012 - 11:00 AM
Jeff Kennett

Former Premier Jeff Kennett says he hopes the standards of awarding a Victoria Cross haven’t been lowered ahead of the expected announcement of a third VC recipient this morning.

Speaking with Neil Mitchell, Mr Kennett said while he had the utmost respect for VC recipients and all soldiers who fight for our country abroad, he hoped it was still being awarded for ‘the most outstanding act of bravery’.

”It is the highest decoration that a soldier can be given, and we should always salute the fact that it represents an expression, a deed of such bravery that's almost impossible to recount,” he said.

”We only awarded four Victoria Crosses for Vietnam, and we had literally thousands of soldiers there.”

”Where you've only got 1500 troops on average each year in Afghanistan, I just hope we're awarding them still for the highest level of bravery.”

The Australian Army says the Victoria Cross is awarded to “persons who, in the presence of the enemy, display the most conspicuous gallantry; a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice; or extreme devotion to duty.”

Six Victoria Crosses were awarded in the Boer War between 1899-1902; 64 were awarded in World War I between 1914-1918; Two were awarded in North Russia in 1919; 20 were awarded in World War II between 1939-1945; and four were awarded in Vietnam between 1962-1972.

Mr Kennett said he held no doubt previous Afghanistan Victoria Cross Recipients, Mark Donaldson VC and Ben Roberts-Smith VC were awarded appropriately.

"There's just something that's eating in my gut that says with so few soldiers there, are we not in any way lowering our standards,” he said.

"I have no doubt if it is awarded today the individual would have committed and extraordinary act of gallantry.

"Some will think I shouldn't have raised (this), but it's an expression."

LISTEN: Jeff Kennett speaks with Neil Mitchell:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Can we please find out exactly what action "Rambo" Kennett has seen? He makes out like he is a war hero, when in fact he is a private school boy who liked to play dress up & the closet he got to any action was a wrestle with his squad mates in the rec room. The guy is a joke & only gets a gig because Mitchell has all his Liberal mates & their kids working on his program.

    Matt - proudly Un-Australian Monday 5 November, 2012 - 3:56 PM
  • Geoff Kennett you are an embarrassment and coward. How would you know what it is like in battle? You politicians are very brave sending our boys to war, then dumping them when they come home. Remember how Vietnam troops were treated when they first came back? Short memory you gormless looser. A WHITE FEATHER to you, YOU COWARD!!! Vietnam was a different war to the one in Afghanistan so don't compare the two. I note you didn't serve in Vietnam, you are a COWARD!

    David Everett Sunday 4 November, 2012 - 8:57 AM
  • Jeff,
    The Falklands went for how long? Not long compared to Afghanistan and 2x VC were awarded. You can't compared conflicts duration and troop number. It is major desperate actions that generally produce the opportunity for one man to stand out and be deserving of a VC and in Afghanistan there has been several incidents like this. The VC has been wrapped up and infected by politics and propaganda since it's inception. Ie Rorkes Drift diverting attention from the massacre at Iswandala. But this can't detract from the valour of deserving recipients in Afghanistan or anywhere.

    Trev Saturday 3 November, 2012 - 5:13 PM
  • is Jeff serious, or is he wasting another radio spot as he seems to do every time he gets on air? EVERY soldier who earns a VC does so through putting their life on the line, and the sad fact Australia doesn't do enough to award our lads is a slight on them by our country and our leaders and everyone concerned should bow their heads in shame. Too many Jeff? Too few is what you should have said. Like to mathc your service record with 1RAR agianst any of the recipients. No? Thought so.

    Rod Saturday 3 November, 2012 - 4:49 PM
  • It is recognised that the distribution and amount of awards during the Vietnam war was grossly unfair. All four well deserved VCs during that conflict went to very senior soldiers and an officer. I don't think there is any doubt that deserving acts of valour amongst the ORs went unrecognised. We have already seen the efforts made for a handful of retrospective awards to the Long Tan vets.
    It seems the army hierarchy, honours and awards and the government have learnt from Vietnam and are now awarding very appropriate and well deserved awards to soldiers who deserve them.
    The comments by Kennet are uninformed, disrespectful and inflammatory. He is better served directing his attention to those soldiers who go unrecognised rather than slurring those who are fortunate to be rightly recognised.
    Quotas still exist and soldiers deserving of recognition still go unrecognised. In the VC actions of Donaldson, Roberts-Smith and Keighran, four other soldiers were recognised with lesser awards. Any other deserving soldiers who fell outside this quota, received nothing. These soldiers are the ones that a public figure such as Kennett should be talking about.

    Troy Saturday 3 November, 2012 - 4:21 PM
  • Jeff did say, before he made the comment, that it would not be popular BUT what he said was he HOPED he new VC Award winner would be worthy of it and not just a token and that was before the recipient was named. I'm sure Jeff would now be saying that Corporal Daniel is a very worthy recipient.

    Willow Saturday 3 November, 2012 - 11:11 AM

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