David Morrison, the former Army Lieutenant-General who famously was recorded ordering his troops to accept women as equals or “get out” has been named this year’s Australian of the Year.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gave the honour to Mr Morrison last night at a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra.
Morrison, who retired from the Army last year after 37 years of service, was given the award for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion.
His 2013 video telling troops to treat women with respect in response to a misconduct scandal involving over 100 Australian Defence Force troops went viral, landing him a mountain of public support.
“[Women] are vital to us maintaing our capability now and into the future,” Morrison said in the video.
“If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable, but I doubt it.”
His acceptance speech was also highly praised, refusing to agree with Prime Minister Turnbull’s catchphrase that “there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian,” and standing up for marginalised Australians who might not feel so positive.
“For reasons beyond education, or professional qualifications, or willingness to contribute, or a desire to be a part of our society and our community, too many of our fellow Australians are denied the opportunity to reach their potential,” he said in his speech.
“It happens because of their gender, because of the god they believe in, because of their racial heritage, because they’re not able-bodied, because of their sexual orientation.”
Adding to that, he vowed to continue the work of last year’s Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, calling her “the most remarkable woman” for her efforts to push the domestic violence debate in Australia.
“She has set a benchmark for us all and the scourge of domestic violence which faces us as one of our great social issues won’t be solved in a year, maybe in 50 or 100 years but it is up to us in our lifetimes to do something about it and I look forward to contributing to her great work,” he said.