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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2305


Mr ROBERT (Fadden) (13:57): I rise to speak on behalf of the coalition—and I think I speak on behalf of the nation—to condemn the comments made by the hosts of The Circle, George Negus and Yumi Stynes, against one of our greatest serving war heroes, Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, who has been awarded a Victoria Cross and a Medal for Gallantry. The story of Corporal Roberts-Smith, VC, MG is truly the stuff of legend—self-sacrifice for love of brother soldier and love of nation—that millions of Australians pass on to their children as the finest example of service above self. For such service, for such an example, for such extraordinary feats of bravery and for the humility with which he has lived his life to be so denigrated by these two journalists is not only unacceptable; it is contemptible.

The irony is that the freedom of speech these journalists exercise is a freedom neither of them have fought for—but which both enjoy. Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, VC, MG has fought and bled for such freedom, yet his military service means he is denied the opportunity to respond. This is a man whose hope is that his service and that of his regiment may lead to a national life free of the fear of being blown up as a result of simply walking onto a bus. Such a man is to be honoured and never denigrated. I therefore ask both the network and the journalists involved to apologise to this great Australian and his family for comments that demean a man who has spent his life serving our nation.