INDEPENDENT MP Andrew Wilkie says he cannot remember ordering military cadets to commemorate Adolf Hitler’s rise to power so he won’t be apologising for that specific incident.
But he says he is regretful of other inappropriate behaviour when he was at Duntroon Military College.
The Herald Sun today said Mr Wilkie had forced his juniors to salute the 50th anniversary of Hitler’s rise to power while he was a senior cadet in 1983.
“I honestly cannot remember anything about that specific allegation,” Mr Wilkie said in Hobart.
“But I have never made a secret of the fact that I was one of many cadets involved in the bastardisation scandal at the Royal Military College Duntroon. In fact I was disciplined for misconduct at the time.”
It comes as the clubs industry says it had no prior knowledge of the allegations and demanded he apologise after insisting he had accused the industry of orchestrating a smear campaign against him.
Mr Wilkie has questioned why the story, that alleges he bastardised junior cadets in the early 1980s when he attended the Royal Military College, Duntroon, has suddenly appeared during his fight against poker machines.
However, he has not directly accused the clubs of being behind the mysterious appearance of the story overnight.
Clubs Australia executive director Anthony Ball said: “I think it’s disgraceful that someone could lob that hand grenade in and really smear an entire industry who are just going about their business.
He also claimed Clubs Australia is only engaged in an ethical debate over poker machine policy reform.
“But there’s nothing underhanded about our campaign,” Mr Ball said.
Meanwhile Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, came to Mr Wilkie’s defence this morning, saying he was a passionate politician.
“I didn’t know the Andrew Wilkie of 30 years ago,” she said. “What I know of Mr Wilkie is of course the work I do with him today. He is passionately motivated to make a difference on poker machines.