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Monday, 21 March 2011
Page: 1274

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations) (3:02 PM) —On 2 March, Senator Fielding asked me a question about the death of Lance Corporal Mason Edwards and the guidelines relating to the listing of names on the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour. During the course of answering Senator Fielding’s question I agreed to take some matters on notice. On 3 March, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Mr Snowdon, wrote to Senator Fielding providing a detailed response to his question. I seek leave to incorporate that letter in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows—

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

Minister for Indigenous Health

Senator Steve Fielding Senator for Victoria

SG-6 1

Parliament House


Dear Senator Fielding

I refer to your questions yesterday to Senator the Hon Chris Evans concerning Lance Corporal Mason Edwards and the exclusion of his name from the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour. You have queried whether the Government has been in contact with Lance Corporal Edwards’ family to discuss this matter and whether the Government will commit to considering a review of the processes and criteria for admission to the Roll of Honour.

Lance Corporal Edwards’ death on the night of 20 October 2009 while preparing for another deployment to Afghanistan was indeed a great tragedy. Live fire training prior to overseas active service should never have such a sad outcome.

On 20 January 201 1, I wrote to Ms Mackay regarding her son. I informed her that the Council of the Australian War Memorial has the responsibility for making all decisions regarding additions to the Roll of Honour. Eligibility criteria has been the subject of careful consideration by Council since the Roll has been established. The Council endeavours at all times to make decisions consistent with criteria that have been in place since the Roll was first established for deaths during the First World War, in particular with its role as the nation’s comprehensive commemorative listing of all those who have fallen on warlike, active service.

To be eligible for inclusion on the Roll of Honour an individual must have died as a result of warlike service while a member of the Australian Defence Force. The Council has agreed to accept the definition of warlike service as provided by the Department of Defence.

As you may be aware, the Council is currently chaired by General Peter Cosgrove AC MC (Reed) and has as ex officio members the Chiefs of Navy, Army and Air Force.

While Lance Corporal Edwards was a serving member of the Australian Defence Force at the time of his death, his death occurred in Australia during a training exercise which under current eligibility is not defined as warlike service.

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Tel: (02) 6277 7820 Fax: (02) 6273 4140

The Council is an independent body and it is not the place of the Government to undertake a review regarding eligibility for the Roll of Honour. However, the Council has been asked to consider how those members of the Australia Defence Force who are killed in circumstances such as Lance Corporal Edwards might be recognised.

I undertake to keep you informed of further developments in relation to this matter. Yours sincerely

3 MAR 2011