Paul Daley; 29/6/08
There’s a weary saying among some top brass at Australia’s Defence headquarters at Canberra’s Russell Hill: “Defence ministers come and go. But we are here to stay.” What they actually mean is: “Defence ministers think they run us. But we run them.” … Fast forward and enter Joel Fitzgibbon, a no-bullshit former auto-electrician from Cessnock in country NSW. … Soon after being sworn in as Defence Minister, Fitzgibbon dressed down one stunned service chief when answers he demanded about the deaths of personnel were not forthcoming. The same (now former) chief got another serve when a multibillion-dollar procurement went off the rails and he couldn’t be contacted. He was on the golf course. His mobile wasn’t. Then, just before Christmas in a closed-door meeting of NATO defence ministers in the shadows of Edinburgh Castle, Fitzgibbon let fly at the organisation’s lack of coherence on Afghanistan.