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Aussie defence force war crimes allegations a 'distraction', worries Dutton


Defence Minister Peter Dutton has raised concerns about military chiefs being ‘distracted’ by allegations of war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

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Dutton says he wants ADF troops – particularly members of the special forces – focused on the future.

“We want to get them back to business, concentrate on keeping our country safe and secure, not to be distracted by things that have happened in the past,” he told 2GB radio on Thursday.

Dutton is particularly miffed about a book being released by sociologist Samantha Crompvoets, who was previously employed by the Department of Defence to help drive cultural change.

Her findings helped spark a major investigation into war crimes by Australian soldiers, which exposed the alleged murders of at least 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.

Dutton is not a fan of her taxpayer-funded social research in relation to the military.

“I’ve made my view very clear to defence and I don’t think you’ll see any more contracts awarded in this regard,” he said.

The last remaining Australian troops will leave Afghanistan by September, bringing the 20-year conflict to an end.

Australia has closed its embassy in Kabul as allied forces leave Afghanistan, fearful of the deteriorating security situation in the country.

The government announced the closure on May 25 after the federal cabinet made its decision on May 13.

The cabinet meeting was three days after Foreign Minister Marise Payne paid a brief visit to Afghanistan.

Senator Payne said she indicated “in the broad” when she spoke to political leaders there that security problems might force Australia to withdraw diplomats.

But she said at the time of her trip, no final decision had been made.

She said closing the embassy was a difficult decision and one not taken lightly, reflecting on the sacrifices made in Afghanistan.

The minister told a Senate estimates hearing she hoped Australian diplomats returned to Kabul “sooner rather than later”.

Department officials confirmed the embassy closure had an impact on the Australia

Afghanistan relationship, conceding “partners would prefer that we would remain there”.

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