Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce faces growing calls to let Darren Chester remain veterans' affairs minister, with veterans' representatives saying it would be "plain stupid" to dump the Victorian MP from the role.
Veterans groups are urging the Nationals leader against removing Mr Chester before a critical period for the portfolio including a royal commission into veteran suicides and investigations into alleged war crimes.
Mr Chester, who has been Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister since 2018, is widely expected to lose the role when the Nationals announce their line-up of ministers following Mr Joyce's return this week as party leader.
But national peak bodies representing veterans and defence personnel warn a change in ministers will undermine the continuity Mr Chester had brought to the portfolio following years of high turnover in the ministry.
Alliance of Defence Service Organisations national chairman and Defence Force Welfare Association national president Kel Ryan wrote to Mr Joyce on Wednesday calling for continued stability in the veterans' affairs portfolio.
"Immediately preceding his appointment there was literally a revolving door in that portfolio when four MPs in four years held it for short periods of time," Mr Ryan wrote on behalf of ADSO, an alliance of 18 national ex-service associations with a combined 90,000 members.
Mr Chester had "represented the best stability in the portfolio for over 10 years", Mr Ryan's letter said.
"Many in the veterans' community consider that as a welcome phenomenon.
"Ministerial stability in the portfolio is so critical to the defence and ex-service communities. Made more so because there are significant issues facing the veteran community at present, each of which demand continuing levels of representation and a collegiate steady working arrangement."
On Friday, Mr Ryan told The Canberra Times he would like to see Mr Chester retain the veterans' affairs ministry until the next federal election in the interests of continuity.
It's time people started thinking of the country first, and not their own factional squabblesNeil James
Mr Ryan said continuity was needed during the royal commission into defence and veteran suicides, and in the aftermath of the Brereton report detailing alleged war crimes committed by the Australian Defence Force.
Reforms improving the transition for military personnel leaving the defence force were under way, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs was making major changes to its services.
Veterans advocacy groups said Mr Chester had been an effective and highly regarded minister, and had held a good working relationship with veterans representatives.
Mr Joyce previously removed Mr Chester from the Coalition cabinet as Nationals leader in 2017. However Mr Chester became a cabinet minister again when Mr McCormack appointed him to the veterans' affairs portfolio after winning the leadership.
Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James said the expected change in veterans' affairs and defence personnel minister appeared "driven by intra-party vengeance rather than any logical reason".
"The whole idea of moving Chester is plain stupid," he said.
"If you were to lose him again, you would be sacking a cabinet minister, which would be an unusual thing to do, particularly as you've got to ask who would replace him in the portfolio.
"It would be particularly embarrassing for example if Chester was to be replaced by a minister who had been sacked for being caught out for other sort of rorting purposes."
A new veterans' affairs minister would need a "read-in" period of about six months when starting the complex portfolio, which is expected to receive scrutiny during upcoming inquiries, Mr James said.
"People need to ask why is the priorities of national governance and business continuity and ministerial continuity in a portfolio been changed just because of some intra-party squabble within the National party?," he said.
"It's time people started thinking of the country first, and not their own factional squabbles within a political party."
Mr James expected there would be widespread disappointment among veterans if the portfolio's minister changed again.
Mr Chester said he was humbled that veterans and family members, along with peak bodies, had offered words of support and had urged Mr Joyce to allow him to remain minister.
Mr Joyce's office was contacted for comment.