Trip to Townville helped win $200M ADF pay increase

``Dear Editor,

A Crikey Journalist (and I use the term “journalist” loosely) has written a nasty little article that slyly gives the impression I misused my travel entitlements on a working trip to Townsville - where I protested out the front of one of Australia’s largest military bases against the Liberal Government’s attempt to cut our ADF pay and conditions.

I think he’s trying to compare my visit to Lavarack Barracks gates in Townsville with Bronwyn Bishop’s trip to the Liberal Party fundraiser in Geelong.

I’ve referred the matter to my solicitor for advice and I reserve my decision whether to take legal action against him. I’m sick of these sneaky individuals who only give a couple of hours’ notice of their questions, and then write trash with no respect for the truth or all the facts.

My trip to Townsville and my protest outside Lavarack Barracks against the Diggers’ pay rip-off by the Liberals was always on my agenda after I received through my veterans’ network, pictures of a former commander Ray Martin CO of 1RAR (1994-95) protesting outside the military base.

You’ll recall that after the Federal Liberal-National government made a decision in November 2014 to announce, what was effectively a military pay cut - including loss of leave and entitlements – I announced that I would launch a political campaign to do whatever it took (including voting against all government legislation) to force the Government to reverse their decision regarding ADF pay.

Some of my fellow crossbench senators named my political tactic and protest as going the “Full Lambie”. When Campbell Newman was stupid enough to call a state election while his federal mates were still flogging our Diggers and their families, I was proud - just like commander Ray Martin CO of 1RAR - to go the “Full Lambie” outside the Townsville Army base gates.

I wasn’t raising funds for a political party, I wasn’t standing with any political candidate and endorsing them, and I wasn’t sipping cocktails at the taxpayers’ expense. I politically targeted the people who were harming our defence families.

As you will see from the headline of the Townsville newspaper – (Lambie slams Jones over pay for Diggers) I attacked the local Federal Member Ewan Jones for the pathetic representation of his constituents in Parliament – while kicking the Liberal party of Australia on behalf of our Diggers where it hurt the most - right between their ballot boxes.

The other fact that the journalist failed to properly enquire about, was that during my stay in Townsville, I spent the majority of my time meeting with Vietnam veterans’ and peacemakers/keepers’ representatives discussing their grievances.

I also conducted one-on-one meetings with soldiers’ wives, who told me how hard it was to make ends meet. It was from these meetings that I also discovered how much recreational leave was about to be taken from ADF members by the Liberals.

The ADF vote against the Liberal Party in Townsville during their state election was a crucial part of a successful Federal campaign to deliver a fairer pay deal for our Diggers.

If the LNP had not lost all their three seats in Townsville, they would have retained government in Queensland. The Federal Liberals only back-flipped on their unfair Defence pay decision, after their Queensland electoral wipe-out - including all three seats in Townsville.

I have no regrets about traveling to Townsville and continuing my political protest and advocacy for our Defence families. I was doing my job for Tasmania and the nation. For a journalist to compare me to politicians like Bronwyn Bishop is a desperate overreach, ridiculous and an insult.

When a Tasmanian Liberal member of Parliament Andrew Nikolic whinged about my trip to Townsville before the Queensland election and meetings with veterans and their families, I replied to a local journalist:

As a former senior army officer he knows how hard his government’s decision to effectively cut the pay and entitlements of our diggers has hit defence families and veterans.

He knows that if the LNP is voted out of office, or a massive swing against them occurs in Queenseland on Saturday, then that is the best chance the 1000 Tasmanian full-time or reservist members of the ADF and nearly 10,000 Tasmanian veterans have of receiving a fair pay and pensions increase. The political fall out in Queensland will force Abbott to backflip on defence pay and benefit hundreds of thousands of people Australia-wide.

My predictions were accurate and came true. The Townsville trip was work and the ``Full Lambie'' protest worked. It helped deliver a $200M pay increase over the forward estimates for our Diggers,'' Senator Lambie said.