Advertising veteran John Singleton speaks on Ben Roberts-Smith ad, new TV show pitch with Erin Molan

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Australian businessman John Singleton has spoken about his controversial defence of war veteran Ben Roberts-Smith in a candid conversation with Erin Molan.

The former advertising guru launched an impassioned public defence of Roberts-Smith by taking out a full-page ad in The Australian last week.

Under the heading “An apology to Ben Roberts-Smith. From a coward” Mr Singleton lauded the Victoria Cross winner’s “courage, strength, commitment”, which was published on page five of Saturday’s Weekend Australian.

Mr Singleton praised Mr Roberts-Smith’s bravery, while admitting that he had himself “dodged Vietnam”.

Mr Singleton described Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan as “God forsaken” and was a war which “had nothing to do with Australia.”

“The fair story is that in a cave or hidden behind a desert rock, the SAS soldiers wait while innocent Afghans walk on past – are they innocent? Are they location mules?” he wrote.

“I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Were you?

“In that awful moment the soldier has to react. Someone has to pull the trigger. Kill or be killed.”

He described the treatment of Mr Roberts-Smith as “disgraceful stuff”.

“They target big, tough, impressive VC winner… not given to showing any public exterior,” Mr Singleton wrote.

“Ben Roberts-Smith can pay for it with his reputation.”

He said that Mr Roberts-Smith “killed as soldiers do, but is now guilty of doing his job”.

Speaking on Sky News on Friday afternoon, Mr Singleton said he was amazed at the reaction the one-page ad had generated, adding that he was baffled by comments made by high ranking members of the Australian military.

“He’s now branded as a war criminal… it’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

“You wonder why there’s more people leaving than joining the army.

“I heard the leader of the defence force say the other night, that we ‘need to learn to do the right thing, and then we’ll be stood up for’. That’s the defence.

“Do you think our enemy are doing the right thing? Come on.”

On a lighter note, Mr Singleton made a tongue-in-cheek proposal to Molan that she should come on his new show idea “Divorced at Second Sight”, which he joked was being floated with several networks.

“I’m asking if you’d like to be in it?” he said.

“Well it’s a very tempting offer. It would depend on the rules. I’d have to read the terms and conditions,” Molan replied, laughing.

Mr Singleton, who has been divorced seven times, has spoken candidly about his past relationships, admitting he is “incapable” of marriage.

“Everyone was right and we were wrong”, he said. “It is not the first time I have made a mistake and won’t be the last. I know I am half mad but mostly the other half makes up for it. Sometimes not,” he previously told the Sunday Telegraph.

“How many married couples stay together for the kids or so they don’t lose their house or security? How many of my mates and associates last over 50 years? Half get divorced and remarry.

“Of the 50 percent who stay married, 90 per cent play around and 10 per cent lose interest. It’s a dopey pledge ‘till death do us part’.

“When you no longer enjoy it, split.”

Mr Singleton said he was fond of Prime Minister Albanese but admitted “time will tell” if he is remembered as a good leader of the nation.

“I like him as a bloke. I get on very well with him.

“He’s got to make some tough decisions, he’s doing some funny things at the moment. He’s doing some really good things. But really like him, I trust him.

“I think he’ll try to do the right thing. Whether he’s up for it, time will tell.”