NSW South Coast attorney and attorney Glenn Kolomeitz says the entire defense forces culture needs to change, not just that of the SAS, which has been at the center of several war crimes allegations in Afghanistan.
"This country has been conducting one investigation after another for decades into the abuse of defense and maladministration. At the end of every investigation, someone says that this could never happen again," said Kolomeitz.
Based in Gerroa on the south coast of New South Wales, Mr. Kolomeitz is a veteran attorney, often on a volunteer basis. One of his clients is Braden Chapman, the whistleblower signal intelligence operator who helped uncover the alleged atrocities. He also represented Kevin Frost, another whistleblower who took his own life.
Mr Kolomeitz said he was sick to the point of nausea reading the Brereton report which set out alleged unlawful killings by Australian soldiers. A lack of transparency, ill-defined missions, and failure of leadership and command were, in his view, largely responsible for the behavior that was thus far out of control. The culture, he said, was widespread throughout defense.
"I call Defense the untrainable dog. They won't obey the rules. If they get caught, they'll hide it until they can't get out. Then they say, 'We're going to change'." Mr. Kolomeitz said.
He works as a consultant to former soldier, now attorney Mick Bainbridge, who specializes in veteran legal issues.
"We see all these defense abuse victims. We have filing cabinets full of them in Mick's Wollongong office where they are looked at by the ADF Inspector General and they say, 'There's nothing to see here,'" he said.
"We have to look at this lack of transparency and the culture of what I call arms management against our own people."
Mr. Kolomeitz urged veterans who feared being called as witnesses, some of whom live on the south coast, to urgently seek independent legal advice.
"We don't have people involved in direct crime. We just fear that charges will be hidden around the corner to bite them. So now we're really caring about these guys," he said.
Mr. Kolomeitz praised the courage of those who came forward to shed light on the alleged 39 unlawful murders.
"They're rolling through an organization they raised to be magical."