14 February 2022

Deputy Speaker,


I just want to make a quick comment about the service at the War Memorial, the last post ceremony that we have at the start of each parliamentary year.


I was frankly disgusted at the level of turnout from politicians, federal members in this place.


You know, it would have been 15, 16, 17 federal representatives, MPs and senators.


There should’ve been full ranks of members of parliament and senators, people who represent Australians at that one service that kicks off the parliamentary year.


One hour of your time to acknowledge all those that have laid down their lives for our country before you get on with the rest of the year and the politics and the carry-on.


We do important work here, yes, but to give up one hour at that Last Post ceremony to say, “for this calendar year and our efforts in the parliament, we will remember those that gave their lives for our freedom.”


And what it’ll also do, is when the members in these place stand to that Last Post ceremony and look up at the tens of thousands of names of those that have gone before us, it will remind you to not be so flippant about war.


It’ll remind you that war is a serious business.


It is paid for in the blood of patriotic men and women of this country.


So when you launch on a pre-election, megaphone diplomacy, talking tough, just remember that this country will always stand up for its values and its principles.


We won't take a backward step.


But needless and careless actions and flippant references to war should be thought about deeply, and that Last Post ceremony gives all honourable members the opportunity to reflect.


I also want to acknowledge the work of Kerry and Kay Danes in bringing the work that led to the inquiry forward.


I served with Kerry for a short time in Timor-Leste.


A great man who's done a lot, as has his wife, Kay, and I worked closely with her to try and get the interpreters of Australian veterans and some of the embassy security guards out in that shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan.


They're good people, as is Andrew Sloane, who does a mountain of work to assist veterans every day.


He did a lot of work on this campaign that led to the inquiry that's now given us some recommendations.


And I want to acknowledge and thank Ray and Pam Palmer, who lost their son, Scotty, Territory-born and bred.


He was lost in Afghanistan with the Commandos.


Ray and Pam have been big supporters of this push to get recognition, some sort of medallic recognition of those who have either been killed in service or injured or wounded in service.


It's an important recognition, medallic recognition.


As Ray Palmer often says, his son’s name is up on the war memorial walls.


But it would be nice to have his son's medal set accurately reflect the totality of his service and sacrifice.


So I encourage the widest possible consultation about the recommendations.


The ball's now in the Government's court to do that work, and I wish them well in arriving at a good conclusion.


The royal commission on Defence and Veteran Suicide is in Sydney and holding hearings, and my thoughts, prayers and solidarity with all involved in that program.