Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has referred to his Department as "incompetent" over its handling of SAS pay. We are now told that in apparent retaliation the Department is raising concerns about his relationship with a Chinese business woman.
This is incredibly bizarre! It is not wrong of the Department to assess whether a Minister might be a security risk - what is bizarre is the suggestion that this relationship could create a security risk or that the Department thinks it appropriate to leak the details of their investigation.
Firstly, relationships are likely to be problems when they are secret - not when they are overt. Fitzgibbon has not attempted to hide this reationship in any way.
Secodly, business relationships with Chinese businesses are not security risks - or if they are there is no one in politics on either side of the house, nor any Australian businessman who is not a security risk. The fact that a Chinese business has managers who are Communist Party officials is an indication that ou are dealing with a substantial business, not that it is a threat. Anyone who thinks the Chinese Communist Party is anything other than just a ruling faction in China is delusional. here is no evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is an internationally subversive force the way the Communists were under Mao in China or under Stalin in Russia. The Chines Communist Party is about as philosophically motivated as the ALP Right!
Thirdly, if Defence had real concerns they would presumably first take them to the Prime Minister. The idea that Defence itself leaks information that supposedly has national security implications is a far bigger national security implication than the content of the leak.
John Howard and his Ministers could famously never control the Defence bureaucracy. It needs to be cleaned out from Assistant Secretary level up. In fact the Government might like to contemplate th well tried technique for sorting out this mess - recreate separate Departments of Army, Navy and Air Force. Nohing like a restructure to enable a spill of positions.