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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17563

Mr CIOBO (7:45 PM) —Australia has a proud record of being a fearless contributor in times of war. I rise this evening to talk about two issues. The first is a time in our nation's proud history that is often referred to as `the forgotten war'. Today marks the 53rd anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. I am very pleased to rise in this chamber in memory of the sacrifices and great efforts that were made by so many veterans on behalf of our nation in Korea. Australia was one of the first nations to commit units from all of the three services to fighting in Korea in the 1950s, and our units had a small but very significant role to play under United Nations command in Korea in what is now referred to as `the forgotten war'.

In standing here tonight, I pay homage to those veterans who reside in Gold Coast City who fought in the Korean War. In particular, I acknowledge Han Chang Sik, who is President of the Gold Coast Korean Society, and also Kevin Wills, a very active member of the Gold Coast veterans' community. It was recently my privilege to present Kevin Wills with a Moncrieff community award. I read for the benefit of the House a small piece that was in the awards booklet that describes what Kevin gets up to in his work for the veteran community. He was recognised for:

... his individual and unselfish efforts in identifying and pursuing social and economic justice for his fellow veterans and their families. He has campaigned for over twenty years to ensure proper maintenance of the graves of Australian Servicemen located in Malaysia. Kevin is persistent, determined and totally dedicated in pursuit of his voluntary commitment to fellow veterans.

The second and quite separate issue I wish to raise was raised in an article in today's Gold Coast Sun. A very concerning situation is taking place in Queensland with the Beattie Labor government's refusal to continue funding Life Education. Up until 2000, the Beattie Labor government funded the Gold Coast branch of Life Education $500,000 a year. But, unfortunately, since 2000 the Queensland state Labor government has decided it is unnecessary to educate children about the dangers of taking drugs. I was pleased to read today that a Sorrento mother of seven, Robyn Hoare, has joined forces with a father of two, Terry Hannagan, in lobbying the Queensland state government to reinstate the $500,000 funding it used to give to this important, invaluable and life-saving program. The fact is this is an important program that goes to ensuring we help as much as possible to drug-proof our children for their future.

In this day and age, it would seem only the Howard federal government is serious about tackling the absolute scourge that is drugs in modern day society. We have our Tough on Drugs strategy, an important part of which is our National Illicit Drug Strategy. This program is about doing several things. It is about preventing the flow of drugs onto our streets, rehabilitating those who have been unfortunate enough to be caught in the snare of taking drugs and making sure our armed forces—that is, the police—who are combating and fighting the war on drugs on a regular basis have at their disposal the tools necessary to, we hope, in the long term win this war.

It is a great shame, though, that, despite these great steps forward the Howard government is making, the Queensland state government has a very different attitude. I am disappointed to advise the House that education of youngsters in Queensland primary schools about drugs has dropped from 180,000 children in 2000, when the funding was in existence, to now fewer than 137,000 children, because the Queensland Beattie Labor government refuses to continue funding the program. In fact, only 40 out of the 68 primary schools on the Gold Coast now have Life Education available to make their children aware of the dangers of drugs. The Beattie Labor government should join with the Commonwealth government in making sure we stand in a strong line against drugs and educate our children about the perils of taking drugs. I urge the Labor government to put some money back into this invaluable program to drug-proof our children for the future.