Freedomroo – Who is the defence minister of Australia and what does she do, family and army details

Employee takes cheeky gibe at CEO Christine Holgate

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has found herself in hot water yet again today, after she was accused of calling alleged rape survivor Brittany Higgins a “lying cow”.

The shocking allegations will pile on the pressure for the Defence Minister to resign.

She defended the remarks by explaining that the revelation by news.com.au that the ex-staffer was allegedly raped on her office couch was “a stressful time in the office”.

Senator Reynolds said she was not questioning Brittany Higgins’ account of the alleged assault but was commenting on “news reports regarding surrounding circumstances that I felt had been misrepresented”.

RELATED: Linda Reynolds calls Brittany Higgins a ‘lying cow’

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WHO IS LINDA REYNOLDS?

Born in Perth in 1965, Senator Reynolds was raised in the West Australian capital on “strong Christian values”, before her father’s job with Phillips took the family to Indonesia when she was a child.

Senator Reynolds and her family learnt to speak Indonesian before they returned to Western Australia when she was a teenager.

She graduated from high school in the early 1980s, enlisting in the Australian Army Reserves in 1984, when she was 19.

Senator Reynolds has been a member of the Liberal Party since 1987 and spent decades working behind the scenes before her election to the Senate.

In her first speech to the Senate, after being elected in 2014, Senator Reynolds spoke about being in politics during the Bali bombing and 9/11.

“I experienced the best and the worst of humanity. My resilience was tested throughout this time, and to the day I die I will never forget what I saw, what I heard and what I smelt,” she said.

“It was at the Bali hospital, where Australians were lying in the morgue, that I came to truly understand that those who desire to destroy democracy, do not respect our national compassion. Instead, they ruthlessly exploit it.

“I now know compassion has to be balanced by strength and by decisiveness.”

Senator Reynolds also spoke about the advancement of women and how she hoped to fight for equality.

“No modern institution can expect to meet the future needs of Australia if it does not fully realise and equally utilise the talents of both men and women,” she said in her Senate speech.

“Over two years ago, I was a member of the Chief of Army‘s advisory committee on gender diversity. I admired the leadership and honesty it took to identify and start addressing previously unrecognised unconscious bias and barriers to women advancing in the military.

“These biases and barriers are now obvious to me in politics and in many other professions.

“I strongly believe that now is the time to evolve and mature our national approach and narrative on gender. I will be a very active participant in this important change process.”

Senator Reynolds was described as a “rising star” in 2019, with former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop telling The Australian she was passionate about women’s issues.

“She’s extremely disciplined and a strategic thinker,’’ Ms Bishop told the publication in 2019.

“She cares passionately about causes. She’s been a champion for women. We’ve worked together trying to get more women into the Liberal Party.’’

Former Justice Minister Chris Ellison, who Senator Reynolds was working for during the Bali bombings tragedy, praised her as a brilliant chief of staff.

“Linda has been a strategic political thinker since I’ve known her,’’ he told The Australian.

“Combine that with her military experience and I think that gives you someone who is very well equipped to be a Defence Minister.’’

WHERE DOES SHE LIVE?

Senator Reynolds splits her time between Perth, where her husband and family live, and Canberra, when parliament is sitting.

In her first speech to the Senate in 2014, Senator Reynolds described herself as a proud West Australian.

“I am both a passionate Western Australian and a proud Australian – two different, but not inconsistent identities,” she said.

She also often takes to social media to praise West Australians and promote the state.

WHO IS SHE MARRIED TO?

Senator Reynolds is married to Robert Reid, the former Australian Medical Association communications director.

Mr Reid has been a strong support for the Defence Minister over the years, with Senator Reynolds thanking her husband in her first speech to the Senate.

Mr Reid was most recently vying for a career in politics last year, when he put his name forward for Liberal pre-selection for the West Australian seat of Bateman in December last year.

The Liberal party went on to choose City of Melville councillor and Tangney Liberal division president Matthew Woodall.

The married couple found themselves in hot water last year after archived financial records, obtained by Daily MailAustralia, revealed the couple had spent big on a number of trips in 2015, including Senator Reynolds attending a ball hosted by her husband’s place of work.

The records showed she charged taxpayers $363.43 to fly from Canberra to Brisbane in May 2015 and another $695.56 to return to Canberra two days later.

On those days, Senator Reynolds also claimed the cost of Comcar transport to and from the airport in both those cities, adding up to $209 and racked up a $1268 bill in Brisbane.

A spokeswoman for Senator Reynolds said the AMA had “officially invited” her to its May 2015 national conference “both in her capacity as a Senator for Western Australia, and as a member of both Senate Community Affairs committees”.

Two months later, in July 2015, Senator Reynolds charged taxpayers another $4242 to travel from her electoral office in Perth up to Broome, in the state’s north.

WHAT IS HER BACKGROUND, EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATION?

Before being elected to the Senate in 2014, Senator Reynolds built an illustrious career in the Australian Army.

Enlisting in the Australian Army Reserve in 1984, at the age of 19, Senator Reynolds worked her way up through the ranks.

She served as an officer cadet, regional logistics officer, training development officer, military instructor at the Army Command and Staff College, commanding officer of the 5th Combat Service Support Battalion, director of the Active Standby Staff Group, project director at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, strategy development director of Raytheon Australia, director of the Accountability Model Implementation Project, and director of the Army Strategic Reform Program.

She was adjutant general of the Army Reserve from 2012 to 2013 and was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2011 Australia Day Honours for “outstanding achievement as the Director of Army Strategic Reform Program co-ordination”.

She attained the rank of brigadier in 2012, becoming the first woman in the Australian Army Reserve to be promoted to a star rank.

Admitting she enlisted in the army reserves after “not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life”, Senator Reynolds said she found her calling.

“I had found my first great passion in life. I am a very proud reservist, and 30 years of service has shaped me in innumerable ways,” she said.

“I would not change a day of it – even the toughest ones, when I arrived home, dirty, exhausted and tested beyond what I thought I could endure.”


WHAT IS HER ROLE AS DEFENCE MINISTER?

Senator Reynolds has served as Defence Minister for less than two years, after she was given the coveted role by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Her portfolio responsibilities include:

  • Oversight of all aspects of the Defence portfolio
  • Defence Budget
  • Defence Reform and Enterprise Management
  • Strategic Policy
  • International Policy and Engagement
  • Intelligence
  • Australian Signals Directorate
  • ADF Operations
  • Defence Planning Guidance
  • The Integrated Investment Program
  • Force Structure Review
  • Development of capability requirements
  • Capability/cost trade off during capability lifecycle
  • People, Equipment and Readiness Force Posture, including USFPI and ASMTI
  • Science and Technology policy and support to capability and operations
  • Defence Security and Vetting Policy
  • Estate and Infrastructure Policy
  • Defence Information and Communication Technology

She has been on leave for a week after her cardiologist insisted she go straight to hospital, instead of facing reporters at the National Press Club last week.

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