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Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Page: 3419

Mr SIMPKINS (5:09 PM) —I would like to speak on the Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Income Support Measures) Bill 2010 without wishing to comment extensively on the amendment as I am sure that will be dealt with in due course. Earlier, the member for Herbert spoke very highly, very fondly, of the efforts of members of the 3rd Brigade of the Australian Regular Army, and at that point he made some comments about Perth and soldiers serving in Western Australia. So I would like to take the opportunity to speak a little bit about what happens over in Western Australia and my high regard for the Army Reserve’s 13th Brigade, because I think that there are aspects of this bill which will certainly impact upon the members of the 13th Brigade.

The commander of the 13th Brigade is Brigadier Stephen Cain, and under his command there is A Squadron, 10th Light Horse, a unit which has a very great tradition in the service of this nation. My understanding is that A Squadron served throughout the First World War with the Australian forces and distinguished themselves on numerous occasions. Similarly, the 11th/28th Battalion traces its heritage back to the Second World War and the First World War, and 16th Battalion also goes back to the First World War. Other units within the 13th Brigade are the 7th Field Battery, 13th Field Squadron, 109th Signals Squadron and the logistics units for the 13th Brigade.

When we talk about veterans and about our soldiers putting themselves in harm’s way, in the current environment we often find that reserves are very much part of the Australian Defence Force and very much part of the Army. Look at what the 13th Brigade from Western Australia, based at Karrakatta, have done. In recent years they have been to the Solomon Islands, serving there; they have been to East Timor; to Malaysia, as Rifle Company Butterworth; and to Bougainville. And they have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, in very much the same way that the reserve units of the Australian Army trace their heritage back to the wars that this nation has fought, they continue to serve very much on the front line; on numerous occasions they have done so in recent years and they will continue to do so in the future. So, to Brigadier Cain, and the officers and other ranks of the 13th Brigade, I extend my thanks for and my appreciation of the work they do, the work they have done in the past and the work they will do in the future for our great nation.

Also, with regard to this bill, we have recently had Anzac Day, and on Anzac Day I attended two formal ceremonies as part of my commitment to the day. Firstly, I attended the dawn service at Ballajura RSL. This has run for several years now, ever since the Ballajura War Memorial and Peace Park was built by the local community. There were private donations, but also the previous federal government was quite involved—to the tune of $155,000 in a couple of sets of grants. Each Anzac Day a very good dawn service takes place. I would like to thank the president, Mike Gilmore, and the secretary, Scottie Alcorn, for the work that they have done to make sure that the interests of veterans and the community with regard to Anzac Day are served so well, particularly at the dawn service on that day.

Later on that day the Wanneroo-Joondalup RSL held a very good parade and then a very appropriate service. Rob Frencham from the Wanneroo-Joondalup RSL, the RSL of which I am a member, ran that. I was also most honoured to be able to lead the parade this year, marching alongside two World War II veterans. So I again extend my appreciation to the Wanneroo-Joondalup RSL for the great work they do in commemorating Anzac Day each year.

I would also like to follow up on something the member for Werriwa said. I also would like to pay my respects to another chapter related to Australian history. That was the commemoration of black April, or 30 April 1975, the fall of Saigon and the fall of the Republic of South Vietnam. We recently commemorated that fateful and dark day for the Vietnamese community in Australia. That took place, as it usually does, at the Australian Vietnam War memorial in Kings Park in Perth. I would pass on my appreciation to all members of the community but in particular the incoming and fairly new president of the Vietnamese community, Mrs Dau Thi Tran, and President of the Republic of Vietnam Veterans Association of WA, Mr Nguyen Van Thanh. I would like to thank them for the opportunity to again—I think it is my third year now—attend that service.

I will always remind the Vietnamese people that we live for the day when their homeland will be free from the oppression and the failure that is socialism and the Communist Party of Vietnam so that religious freedom and true democracy and freedom of speech can once again help the people of that nation go forward. As we know, the Vietnamese people in Australia have thrived. Their work ethic is second to none, and they are successes in every part of this country. A great success story began when they came to this country. However, that is not the case for the 88 million Vietnamese that remain in their homeland. So I say again that we live for the day when their country will be free, when their opportunities will match those of Vietnamese people who live in this country.

To conclude, I would like to say that I stand in favour of the Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (Income Support Measures) Bill 2010, and I look forward to it passing.