Questions For The Minister
History Pages

On the 16th of August, 2006, I wrote a letter to the Minister for Veterans Affairs, in which I asked seven questions about the Department's relationship with Writeway Research.
The questions are:
 Question 1.
In the year 2000, the Department of Veterans Affairs made the decision to switch the task of researching the historical facts in claims presented by veterans from the Australian Army History Unit to a private firm called Writeway Research. Was John Tilbrook, then of the Australian Army History Unit, involved in any of the discussions or correspondence that led to that decision?
Question 2.
At the time that it made the decision to allocate taxpayer-funded research work to Writeway, was your department aware of the involvement of John Tilbrook in both the Australian Army History Unit and Writeway Research?
Question 3.
Did your department follow any tendering process when it made the decision to allocate taxpayer-funded research to Writeway Research?
Question 4.
Given that at the time that your department made the decision to switch its research work to Writeway, the personnel at Writeway Research had no qualifications in historical research, no publication record, no teaching record, and in fact no track record of any kind in the Australian History profession, on what basis did your department decide that Writeway Research was a suitable organisation to receive taxpayer funding for historical research?
Question 5.
Given the standards of proof required in the Veterans Entitlements Act, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act and their predecessors, what historical sources are considered by your department to be of a suitable standard to be used as evidence against claims made by veterans?
Question 6.
What independent analysis by suitably qualified professional researchers has your department sought, in order to monitor the standard of research provided by Writeway?
Question 7.
Given that they are not eyewitnesses to the events on which they are commenting, and given that they lack any professional qualifications to give evidence as experts in historical research, what legal standing do the opinions of Writeway personnel have before the Veterans Review Board and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal?

I believe it is important that the veteran community, and all participants in the claims and appeals process, are made aware that these questions have been asked.
Once the questions have been asked, and are known to have been asked, it is no longer possible for bureaucrats in the department to deny awareness of the issue, as they have done in the past.

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