Army veterans are calling for newly appointed Australian of the Year, David Morrison, to resign from the post.
The former Lieutenant General has caused anger in the veteran community, which is disappointed his acceptance speech leading up to Australia Day failed to acknowledge returned soldiers.
Former Australian Army soldier Geoff Shafran has launched a Change.org petition calling for Morrison’s resignation, which has garnered more than 1,800 supporters.
Shafran’s main concern was that Morrison had failed to “publicly champion the cause of physically and mentally disabled ADF personnel”.
He said “hundreds continue to suffer accepted physical conditions, and many thousands suffer accepted psychological conditions, in failing to take advantage of an opportunity such as your Australia Day acceptance speech to highlight their plight, you demonstrated that you are, at the least naive and ignorant to their plight.”
“It is, in my opinion, that you were presented an generational opportunity to highlight the welfare and health issues of ex, and in some circumstance current members of the Australian Defence Force, and their families and loved ones, in failing to do so we the undersigned are therefore petitioning you to relinquish the retired title of General, and to resign as Australian of the year.”
In an interview with the ABC, Shafran said that Morrison “demonstrated a lack of leadership” when he chose not to reference veterans’ issues.
“When you can get on at an Australia Day speech and discuss the republic and not allude to veterans’ issues when he had I think it’s 13 soldiers who were actually killed overseas while he was chief of army, it’s just turning your back on these people,” he said.
AAP reports that Morrison has since responded to critics this morning saying: “As the grandson and son of veterans and a veteran myself, I care deeply about issues affecting the veteran community.”
Morrison was announced as Australian of the Year earlier this week by prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, replacing domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty.
He has served 36 years in the Army before retiring last year.
Morrison said he would supporting three key areas in his new role: domestic violence, diversity and the republican movement.
You can watch the full speech below.