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Minister Receives Death Threat

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by anthony, Oct 31, 2006.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    The Australian Federal Police has been called in to investigate a death threat against the Minister for Veterans Affairs, Bruce Billson.

    The threat was made on an internet chat forum that is regularly used by injured veterans and injured service personnel.

    The convenor of the chat forum, Paul Dignon – an injured East Timor veteran – apparently circulated the anonymous threat – after it was passed on to him by another veteran, Dave Briggs, on Monday night. The threat takes the form of digitally enhanced artwork for Kill Bill, the Quentin Tarantino movie featuring Uma Thurman, so that it reads Kill Billson First.

    Above the artwork, Briggs writes: "I received this delightful email and thought it rely [sic] catches the mood of the day. I have eliminated reference to the author for obvious reasons.

    "The punch a pollie could well be a worthwhile start towards bashing some since [sic] into the bludging pieces of shit. The problem is that they would start hiring minders at millions to the tax payer, but a good concept never the less.

    "The second idea has merit but I don't believe we as veterans would ever go that far, but on second thought maybe we are not very far from it. Just keep pushing and maybe we will see.

    "I have noticed far more pollies are beginning to block emails of late, so the time for stronger action may well be at hand if these bastards refuse to listen to us." The email continues, apparently quoting the threatmaker:

    "Simple way to make them take notice. Remember the 'Punch a Postie' campaign (suggested by Lt 'Jackie' Gleeson of AFPO 4 Nui Dat in '68 we should instigate a 'Punch a Pollie' campaign. All vets should take the opportunity to snot one of these snivelling little turds ... and if they are feeling really desparate ... do as attached ...

    If you’ve ever wondered who has perhaps the toughest job in federal politics, wonder no more.

    Billson’s department has the onerous task of determining which of the hundreds of thousands of Australian veterans and other service personnel are entitled to compensation for injuries they have received along the way. It’s a tough juggling act for the department’s bureaucrats and the minister.

    Successful claimants must be able to demonstrate a link between their service and their injuries. It is a huge and frequently lumbering bureaucratic process that often lends itself to the insensitive treatment of people whose emotional and physical pain is so great that they are willing to take desperate measures to find redress. To be the Minister for Veterans Affairs is to have enemies.

    On Monday night one of Bruce Billson’s enemies came forward.

    He or she used an e-mail-based chat forum to post what can only be considered to be a death threat against 40-year-old Billson.

    The anonymous threat appeared on a chat group run by Paul Dignon, an injured East Timor veteran who is fighting the DVA for recognition and compensation. Dignon rose to prominence in the lead-up to last ANZAC Day when he coordinated the Sea Of Orange – a protest against the government’s treatment of veterans.

    That somebody has gone to considerable length to manipulate digitally the movie poster so that it reads Kill Billson First, is perhaps a measure of both their desperation and resolve. When the image was posted, the backlash began almost immediately.

    Blue Ryan, the national president of the veterans’ lobby group the TPI (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated) Association, immediately posted a message saying he found the anonymous threat "over the top, offensive, stupid, nonsense".

    "If anybody who agrees with this line of thinking believes it is helpful in the fight for veterans’ rights and entitlements they are sadly mistaken," he wrote.

    "I personally am sick to death of making excuses for people concerning some of the rubbish that is put around. I don’t agree with some of the stuff that comes from Minister Billson’s office and I will always be critical when appropriate, the TPI Federations record shows that, but I want to make one thing very clear and I don’t care who it offends, I think we are lucky to have Bruce Billson as the Minister for Veterans Affairs."

    While Billson has obviously made enemies, his has also built some bridges into the veterans’ community. Veterans advocates believe the minister has gone to considerable lengths to connect with his constituency since taking over from the hapless De-Anne Kelly last January. Billson, like his department, doesn’t always get it right. But he tries. And he approaches his job with enthusiasm, passion and genuine sympathy for the people he deals with.

    That has happened, in part, because of his willingess to intervene in cases where he has been convinced that an injustice has been done.

    One such case involves the Vietnam veteran Sergeant Edward Czerwinski, who was fighting with the DVA for appropriate treatment for horrific injuries he received after stepping on a landmine in Vietnam. The Bulletin first highlighted his case last year.

    Billson intervened earlier this year after apologising to Czerwinski at a forum involving some 200 veterans in South Australia.

    "I publicly apologised to Mr Czerwinski for the delay it has taken to resolve his concerns," Billson recently said.

    Today his office confirmed that the AFP had been called in to investigate the death threat.

    Billson told The Bulletin: "I don’t want to comment on this, I’m just focused on remaining positive and continuing to work for better outcomes for veterans."

    Dignon issued a mea culpa of sorts this morning (Tuesday).

    "It appears that I have made a mistake or at a minimum an error in judgement and for this I would like to apologise to the community and Bruce Bilson, MP," it reads.

    "The unnamed originator of the E Mail entitled 'Politicians' has indeed upset about 6 people, I’m not trivialising this in anyway by saying '6 people' as these people were not only extremely vehement in their disgust for this E Mail but are in fact also the leaders of our community.

    "There is however, an underlying motivation for these black E Mails and I must say that even though some Vietnam Vets can pull the odd 'fo par' out of their hats as Briggsy has done, today many, many more of these 'black' E Mails are received by me (every day) from people of my own generation.

    "Yesterday we had two extremely big stories in the media that focussed on PTSD and we must expect people’s anger and abuse to explode out in some form. I do not need to make it clear to any of you that we have already lost far too many to suicide from the East Timor War of only 6 short years ago, We have lost FAR more Vietnam Veterans since 1972 and before. Indeed many of us have Sons, Daughters, relatives and friends serving in the sandpits of Iraq and Afghanistan. "Many of us know the desperation PTSD can cause and it’s always fine to sit back and say 'well, that’s no excuse'. For those who don’t 'get it' PTSD is a mental disorder that is borne out of hate, anger and violence.

    "But does this or will this end with Black E Mails, are they simply cries for help from those who have not yet come to terms with their own nightmares. Should WE be helping these people and providing them with assistance or should we simply 'stick our heads in the sand' and refuse to deal with these problems. Extraditing people will never make them better!

    "Black E Mails DO NOT get us anywhere with politicians but more importantly there is a good probability that they will ruin our credibility with the Australian Public. After all the work we have put in getting media on side, we can not afford to damage our reputation with the Australian Public, therefore I ask that any E Mails that fit into this 'Black' category be stopped altogether.

    "None of us can stop this internet revolution and in truth it is probably more valuable that people can use this means to vent with the written word. It is therefore extremely important that we grab hold of these fellas (and gals) and make SURE that they are mentally sound and that they are receiving the help they not only NEED but warrant!

    "Stop and think!

    "Once again, my apologies to all!"

    Attached Files:

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  3. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    And this an interesting little add on that I summoned up from a .pdf file in relation to how DVA are handling cases.

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