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Former Sunshine Coast man Nathan Moore is battling for compensation for injuries he says were a result of him being a whistleblower on drugs in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Govt moves to strip veteran benefits from hero whistleblower

A MAN named a hero only 11 weeks ago by the Chief of Air Force now fears he will be made destitute by the government body charged with caring for veterans.

Former Sunshine Coast man Nathan Moore first hit the spotlight in 2002 when he was brutally bashed with an iron bar after turning in drug dealers at the Royal Australian Air Force Amberley base.

His identity as a whistleblower was uncovered and he was bashed by two people on whom he said he had informed.

The former Leading Aircraftman has since battled for recognition that the bashing, which left physical and mental scars, was a result of his whistleblower actions.

Those actions earned Mr Moore letters of praise from former Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Angus Houston in 2004 and current Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies, who in April advised him he would be receiving a Gold Commendation for taking a stance.

However, the Department of Veterans' Affairs is now pushing to strip Mr Moore of the benefits he receives as compensation for his ongoing injuries and the former serviceman fears he could be forced to repay money he has already received, potentially sending him into bankruptcy.

The department has a history of trying to avoid paying money to Mr Moore, relying on a series of claims all of which he has rejected.

Those claims range from assertions Mr Moore was bashed because he was involved in a love triangle to claims he turned in the drug dealers after he was attacked.

However, Mr Moore has not wavered from his story over the past 14 years.

"I was bashed at my home on the 29th of July 2002 by members of my unit as payback for informing on the drugs activities after my name and identity became known when my security was breached by an air force officer," the declaration read.

"This bashing was not part of a love triangle."

He rejects the suggestion he turned on the drug dealers after the attack just as strongly, laying out a detailed timeline of what happened, who was involved and when.

The department's decision to withhold payments was upheld by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2008 and Mr Moore's battle continued until 2014, when the same department which had denied the link agreed to compensate him on a new claim of post traumatic stress disorder and jaw injury.

Mr Moore received lump sum compensation payments as well as fortnightly incapacity payments.

But a letter from the department on October 28, 2015, indicated it believed an error had been made in allowing compensation for the injuries.

The letter said the evidence provided by Mr Moore in 2013 to support the ultimately successful 2014 application for compensation was not different to the evidence supplied to the tribunal in 2008.

"The only new information provided was the decision by the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, confirming your entitlement to a reparation payment," the letter read.

It said that did not count as new evidence as it was a decision by a different body assessing a different threshold test to that of a claim under the department's compensation scheme.

Mr Moore's RSL advocate, Peter McNamara, submitted an appeal in February which referenced the correspondence Mr Moore had received from Air Marshal Angus Houston in 2004 and Air Marshall Davies this year.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs responded last month, saying the Department of Defence had denied the air marshal's letters were an admission of liability for Mr Moore's injuries.

It quoted information provided on behalf of the Chief of Air Force.

"The letters to Mr Moore acknowledge that he was assaulted by other air force members in 2002 and that he suffered serious physical and psychological injuries as a result of that attack," the defence statement read.

"The letters do not state, nor were they intended to infer, that the above assault occurred as a result of any actions by Mr Moore as a 'whistleblower' or as a police informant."

Mr McNamara described the treatment of Mr Moore as "appalling".

"It is cheaper to pin a medal on a veteran than pay for the care they need for health and medical services it seems," Mr McNamara said.

He said if the decision to revoke compensation stood, he feared the Department of Veteran's Affairs would pursue Mr Moore to repay the lump-sum payments he had been awarded since 2014.

Mr McNamara also feared Mr Moore would have to pay back two years worth of fortnightly incapacity payments.

"It's a fair amount to pay," he said.

Mr Moore said the latest development had been "very, very stressful".

"I've taken it pretty bad and so has my wife," Mr Moore said.

"We are in a situation of limbo where we don't know where we are going from here.

"I can't understand how they can give me a Chief of Air Force commendation and within a month, take it all away."

He was concerned he would have to pay back the compensation awarded to him since 2014.

"I'm really concerned about bankruptcy.

"It's a very harsh decision."

Department of Defence response

A Department of Defence spokesman said it took all complaints of unacceptable behaviour very seriously.

"Mr Moore's complaint that he was assaulted in July 2002 by members of the Air Force for reporting drug use to the civilian police was comprehensively investigated, first by the Queensland police in 2002 and then by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) who completed a detailed report on 3 July 2007," the spokesman said.

"The IGADF report found that, while Mr Moore was assaulted in his home, the most likely reason was a dispute involving a girlfriend.

"Further (the) IGADF found that Mr Moore made no reports of drug use to either Defence or the Australian Federal Police until August 2002, after the assault.

"The Department of Veterans' Affairs is responsible for decisions regarding military compensation.

"The role of Defence in the compensation process is to provide all relevant documents to DVA.

"The 2007 IGADF report remains the only Defence investigation into this matter of which Air Force is aware, which was advised to the Department of Veterans' Affairs on 8 April 2016."

The spokesman said after the assault, Mr Moore came forward and reported suspected drug use in his unit.

"For this courageous action, Mr Moore was awarded a Chief of Air Force Gold Commendation on 9 April 2016.

"Unfortunately, after the assault, a number of aspects of Air Force's management of Mr Moore were poor, and in 2015 the Chief of Air Force formally apologised for this to Mr Moore."

Veterans' Affairs response

A Department of Veterans' Affairs spokesman said the department had an obligation to protect client's information.

"Accordingly, our policy is not to comment publicly on a specific client," the spokesman said.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Dan Tehan said he had not previously been approached about the matter.

"I asked DVA to enquire immediately into the case," Mr Tehan said.

"I have been advised the matter is currently before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and therefore I am unable to comment further until this process is finalised."

Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs David Feeney said he had not been briefed by the government on particulars of the case but it was clear that it merited close re-assessment by the Department of Veterans' Affairs and Department of Defence.

"It is well known that DVA overpayments and the subsequent recovery of moneys paid can cause great stress and financial hardships to our veterans," Mr Feeney said.

Mr Moore's case is due for a directions hearing at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on June 30.