PM ‘won’t oppose’ veteran suicides royal commission


At least six Coalition MPs are expected to cross the floor to vote with the opposition calling for the federal government to establish a royal commission into veteran suicides today.

In a significant sign for veteran advocates who support the motion, it is understood the Prime Minister is keen to find a way forward and is not opposed to establishing a Royal Commission.

Scott Morrison confirmed on Monday morning he won't stand in the way of the vote.

"We won't be opposing that motion at all," Mr Morrison told 2GB's Ben Fordham but said a royal commission is not a "silver bullet."

Julie-Ann Finney has been campaigning for an inquiry after the death of her son David. Picture: Tracey Nearmy
Julie-Ann Finney has been campaigning for an inquiry after the death of her son David. Picture: Tracey Nearmy

"We've always thought you need something better and more than a royal commission.

"We've put in legislation to provide for a permanent set of arrangements that have the powers of a royal commission to address veteran suicides."
After struggling to get Senate support for an independent commissioner to investigate veterans suicides, it is now believed a royal commission could sit alongside that permanent role.

The motion that will be voted on in the lower house today, was passed through the Senate on Thursday urging a royal commission into the rate of suicide among current and former serving Australian Defence Force personnel.

It was backed by the Labor, the Greens, One Nation who backflipped on her original stance, and independents Jacqui Lambie and Rex Patrick.

The prime minister has been speaking directly with his veteran colleagues about the issue, though one source told The Daily Telegraph there was initially some attempt to convince MPs not to cross the floor, as the national commissioner was the preferred option.

The source said if the commissioner "doesn't work" then the royal commission would be called in a year.

After Craig Kelly quit the Liberal Party in February to sit as an independent, the government only holds 75 seats in the 151 seat lower house, with Speaker Tony Smith acting as tie-breaker.

Mr Kelly supports the push for a royal commission, as does independent MP Bob Katter.

Julie-Ann Finney, who lost her son - navy veteran David - to suicide, has been pushing for a royal commission for two years, backed by The Daily Telegraph's Save Our Heroes campaign.

"We can no longer be arrogant and try to protect people we need to actually save lives and the only way to do that is through a full transparent investigation," she said.

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Originally published as PM 'won't oppose' veteran suicides royal commission