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Thursday, 19 June 2003
Page: 17088

Mr JOHNSON (9:48 AM) —Last week I had the privilege of hosting the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon. Danna Vale, in my electorate of Ryan. This was a great occasion. The minister was very kind and generous with her time, spending most of the day with me. We organised several events that involved the contribution and participation of members of the Ryan community. In the morning there was a general community event, where members of the community had the opportunity of meeting a minister of the Crown. Much to my delight and surprise, there was quite a bit of interest in coming to the breakfast gathering with the minister, and it was very successful.

Following that gathering we had the opportunity of going to Riverglen, where a special ceremony was put on for us involving the Defence 20/20 Challenge, which is a government program to teach our young people, our young Australians, about the importance of the defence community, the importance of the various arms of our defence services and the importance of national security to our country. This is a great opportunity for these young Australians, who come from schools throughout Queensland—from the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and my electorate of Ryan. I acknowledge St Aidan's school in particular, which was heavily represented by girls who participated in the program. The minister was able to answer intelligent and perceptive questions from the students, and the students, I know, found the occasion interesting and informative.

The other important gathering that the minister was able to attend involved the Saluting Their Service presentation ceremony. This ceremony honoured two very important groups of local veterans in our community. The first of these were the recipients of the National Service Medal. I will mention the names of the Ryan residents who participated in the service: Mr Angus Catchpole, Mr Barry Cooley, Mr John Ford, Mr Colin Gilmour, Mr Philip Irwin and Mr Ross Thompson.

Mr Barry Cooley comes from the suburb of Bellbowrie, and his family were there. His family, in fact, are very much part of the Defence Force of our country. His son is an Air Force pilot, one of the young Australians this parliament would acknowledge for his service to our country in flying the fantastic aircraft in our Air Force. The other element of the service was the Saluting Their Service certificates of appreciation. (Time expired)