Retired brigadier turned Liberal senator Linda Reynolds has attacked Australian Conservatives leader and South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi for questioning the removal of bans on women serving in front-line combat roles in the Australian Defence Force.
Senator Bernardi spoke against removing an exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act which allows discrimination against women serving in frontline combat roles, such as SAS or commando roles.
The section that the Coalition government wants to remove stands alongside an exemption they are not touching - allowing discrimination in high performance sporting codes (e.g. tennis, Australian Rules football, National Rugby League).
"It's about blurring the lines between political correctness and sound tactics in the name of what I think is social justice," Senator Bernardi told the senate yesterday, "Where stamina, strength or physique of (sporting) competitors is relevant, you are allowed to discriminate and exclude individuals ... (b)ut you are not allowed to do that in our armed forces."
The Australian Conservatives leader said, based on feedback he had received from front-line and elite soldiers, he has deep concerns about the dangers for women serving in combat roles - whereas Senator Reynolds cited army top brass whose primary aim is diversity in the armed forces.
"I don't believe incorporating women into combat units is in the best interests of Australia's national security," Senator Bernardi said.
Support for Senator Bernardi is coming in from past and present soldiers, such as this one:
"As a 6 times deployed Veteran & ex Regular soldier for over a decade, I endorse Mr Bernardi's comments. The standards have definitely been reduced to accommodate the push, why have they watered down the Infantry Combat Fitness Test (PESA) if not? Do women have to pass the male BFA standard to be in combat corps, if not why not?"
This is Senator Bernardi’s reasoning behind the position he has advocated today.