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Thursday, 19 June 2008
Page: 5441

Mr GRIFFIN (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) (1:57 PM) —It is a great pleasure to be here and I would really like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support for finishing early! I thank him, and I want to assure him that my tailor will thank him when I get the sauce out of this suit at a later stage. I am commencing my summing up of the Military Memorials of National Significance Bill 2008. This bill provides an opportunity to realise the wish—and deservedly the wish—of the community of Ballarat with respect to the Ballarat POW memorial and its capacity to be recognised formally and officially as a national memorial and, in this case, using the term a ‘military memorial of national significance’. The amendment moved by the member for Mackellar and a number of opposition speakers have addressed aspects of this issue in suggesting—and in fact claiming—that the government has breached an election promise. Nothing could be further from the truth. I assure members that when I do get the opportunity to finalise the consideration of this bill—possibly later today but probably more likely early next week—I will make it clear in detail as to why that is the case. This memorial is a very significant and special memorial, and that is something which speakers on all sides have addressed. As we approach question time, I acknowledge the member for Ballarat and her very detailed and long-term commitment to ensuring that this memorial is properly recognised as a national memorial. There is no doubt that Catherine King, the member for Ballarat, has made this an important objective for the local community. It has been on the basis of that local community and the prisoner of war community nationwide that this matter was brought to our attention, and I am more than pleased to be in the situation where we can take action on her behalf.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the minister will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.