LNP candidate wrongly claimed military medal
THE Liberal National Party's candidate for the crucial Longman by-election wrongly claimed to be the recipient of a prestigious military medal for the past six years.
Trevor "Big Trev" Ruthenberg, the former State MP for Kallangur, yesterday confessed he may have "screwed up" when confronted about his dubious decoration claims by News Queensland.
"If I screwed up then I screwed up and all I can do is apologise," Mr Ruthenberg said.
"It was certainly not intentional and I respect the uniform way too much to claim I earned something I didn't."
The revelation is a bitter blow for the Turnbull administration, which is hoping to be the first government in almost a century to win a seat off an opposition at a by-election on July 28.
Ruthenberg had been the favourite to claim the crucial seat according to a News Queensland ReachTEL poll on June 26 which revealed he was ahead 51-49 (two-party-preferred).
Mr Ruthenberg's publicly available biography on the State Parliament website has stated since 2012 that he was awarded an Australian Service Medal while serving in the Royal Australian Air Force.
The medal, which was established in 1988, is awarded to military personnel for distinguished service in peacekeeping zones and non-war operations.
The nickel-silver medal ensigned with the Crown of St Edward is awarded by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Chief of the Defence Force.
An investigation by The Courier-Mail revealed Mr Ruthenberg never received the distinction. However, he did receive the Australian Defence Medal, which is given to all military personal after serving four years.
"I have got absolutely no clue," he said yesterday.
"I don't have the source documents. If the source documents are wrong then I apologise for that."
He also could not explain why he had not identified and corrected the error for more than six years.
"Dead set, you are the first person to have ever asked me about it," he said. "If I made the mistake, I made the mistake."
The former RAAF 38 Squadron corporal insisted he remained a dedicated military man and had volunteered his time leading an army cadet unit after serving one term as a state MP.