Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was left embarrassed during a live press conference on Thursday after his country’s armed forces chiefs decided to leave the stage during a political press conference.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was answering journalists’ questions on the military leadership changes but once he had replied to their questions on defence matters, one journalist asked him to comment on a political topic. This was when Australian Defence Chief Angus Campbell abruptly intervened and advised the minister that it wouldn’t be appropriate for senior military personnel to be seen in the same frame when he was commenting on matters of political significance.
A report by ABC said that those standing directly behind Pyne included the Australian Defence Force’s second in command, Vice Admiral David Johnston; the newly announced Air Force Chief, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, and the next Chief of Joint Operations, Major General Greg Bilton.
No sooner had Pyne begun answering questions on politics, Campbell walked up to his boss and told him abruptly, “Minister can I just ask?” Pyne responded, “Oh Angus!” Campbell said ‘my apologies’ for arriving late at the press conference. The minister replied, “You are very welcome to welcome us.”
The defence chief then stated, “I might just ask that the military officers step aside while you are answering these kinds of questions.” An embarrassed Pyne said, “Yep please do.”
Moments later, all defence chiefs left the stage and disappeared away from the camera as Pyne continued to comment on politics.
The development must serve a lesson to Indian military commanders, who have happily shared the stage with the members of the government even while questions have revolved around political controversies, thereby throwing the notion of impartiality in the armed forces out of the window.
Abandon ship! Watch as the Defence brass retreats because their Minister Christopher Pyne fields political questions with them as the backdrop. The Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell leads the rear-guard action. #auspol @9NewsAUS pic.twitter.com/WbQc6E4hVY
— Chris Uhlmann (@CUhlmann) March 28, 2019