Australian DM slams own department

Feb. 27, 2009 at 2:44 PM
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CANBERRA, Australia, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says his government department has covered up mistakes due in part to "incompetence."

The Sydney Morning Herald said in its Saturday edition that the Australian official admitted his department has significantly struggled during the 15 months he has served as defense minister.

"Have I seen incompetence? Absolutely yes. Have I seen attempts to nuance information to cover for mistakes? Yes. Have I seen nuanced information in an attempt to produce outcomes that are more favorable to those who are responsible for the issue? Yes," Fitzgibbon told the Herald.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the chief of Australia's defense force, responded to the minister's comments by defending the integrity of the defense department.

"I work for the minister, my job is to serve the minister who represents the government of the day. I will do that as professionally as I possibly can," Houston told the Herald. "I will never mislead him, I will never ever lead him astray, I will never cover up anything, and I will give him the advice that he seeks. Now will I always give perfect advice? Probably not."

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