Defence Minister Ron Mark should stand up for our Defence Force after its integrity was seriously called into question by the Government yesterday, National’s Defence Spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.

“Mr Mark has always been a strong advocate for our soldiers, having served himself.

“Just last week he was condemning those who unfairly criticised the Defence Force, slamming media criticism and saying those who had never served in uniform could not accurately judge the actions of our soldiers in combat.

“But yesterday the Prime Minister accused the Defence Force of withholding information from the Government in relation to an operation in Afghanistan.

“When asked about the serious allegations in the book Hit and Run authored by journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, the Prime Minister accused the Defence Force of not being up front and sharing enough information.

“This is a serious allegation which the Defence Force has thoroughly, repeatedly rejected.

“The Prime Minister’s comments undermine the credibility and integrity of the Defence Force.

“Mr Mark also needs to say whether he would support an inquiry into the actions of our SAS in Afghanistan.

“Mr Mark holds strong beliefs in the integrity of our Defence Force and is forging a reputation for standing up for our soldiers and this will be an important test for him. I expect he will meet it,” Mr Mitchell says.

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