‘Secret’ meetings to stop military suicide inquiry
THE South Australian woman leading the call for a Royal Commission into military suicides says "secret" meetings at the highest levels of government are seeking to undermine her campaign.
Julie Ann Finney, who lost her son David Finney to suicide last year, has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg about her concerns.
The Blair Athol resident said she is aware of meetings in Canberra in December and this month behind closed doors involving the Treasurer, Health Minister Greg Hunt and a group of nine medical experts.
She claims the meetings resolved to release funds for several mental health initiatives for veterans but only if the Royal Commission call was dropped.
"Some of the people (at the meetings) have called asking me to let the Royal Commission go because they have agreed good initiatives but that's not going to happen," Ms Finney said.
"I'm shocked that after 100 years they think they can solve this issue with secret meetings.
"I have respectfully asked for a seat at the table the next time they meet."
"I'm told he argued that a Royal Commission would trigger veterans to take their own lives," she said.
"To me that's akin to saying a murder trial will trigger the family of the murder victim.
"It's a silly statement and frankly offensive.
"They (government) are looking to find every reason not to have a Royal Commission.
"They have been trying to placate me and it won't wash."
Ms Finney said she understood calls for a Royal Commission into the national tragedy of the bushfires was rightfully taking precedence but hundreds of veterans had contacted her concerned they were being forgotten.
"These initiatives do not result in an investigation into why hundreds of veterans have taken their own lives," she said.
"There have been six known veteran suicides over the Christmas break which is more than the pink batt deaths (Home Insulation Program) that rightly saw a Royal Commission inquiry (2013)."
In her letter she says the subject of a Royal Commission should be "bipartisan - not political".
The Federal Labor opposition has backed Ms Finney's inquiry call.
Ms Finney said she was "absolutely dreading" the first anniversary of her son's death next month but is "more determined than ever" to see a national inquiry.
Her petition in David's name on change.org has exceeded more than 277,000 signatures.
It will be presented to parliament by Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, a former veteran, next month when it expected to have reached 300,000 signatures.
The Office of the Prime Minister confirmed it had received Ms Finney's letter and would issue a full response as soon as possible.