July 16, 2024

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has distanced himself from King Charles’ decision to honour disgraced war veteran Ben Roberts-Smith.

The country’s most decorated soldier appeared at Western Australia’s Government House this week to receive a coronation medal from King Charles III.

The special honour is bestowed on all Victoria Cross recipients, an award Roberts-Smith still holds despite a landmark defamation trial concluding he had committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

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Albanese today made clear the decision to recognise Roberts-Smith was made by the King and not his government.

“This was the decision of the Palace to give all Victoria Cross recipients a further award,” he said in an interview with Weekend Today.

“There’s ongoing legal action on these issues so given the government’s engagement, it’s important that there not be interference in that.

“But it certainly wasn’t a government decision.”

WA Governor Chris Dawson and Buckingham Palace were contacted for comment.

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Roberts-Smith was seen leaving the government house with his parents by his side on Thursday.

His latest honour is likely to stir mixed feelings in light of last year’s civil court ruling that Nine newspapers’ — The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times — reporting of allegations Roberts-Smith unlawfully killed and assaulted unarmed Afghan prisoners were true.

The decision was a historic win for the media, which the disgraced veteran has appealed and is awaiting judgement.

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