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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10177

WYATT ROY (Longman) (10:44): I rise to speak to the Defence Legislation Amendment Bill 2011. This bill seeks to provide that the service chiefs' day-to-day administrative responsibility for their respective service cadets is subject to the direction of the Minister for Defence or the Chief of the Defence Force. The amendments will provide the CDF with delegation-making power to the vice chiefs of the Defence Force in relation to cadet responsibility and direction. While this might not be the most controversial legislation to come through this place, I think it is a good opportunity to raise in this place the importance of the cadets in our community and the contribution that they make to our nation and to their local communities. The defence community is not what we always think it is. It extends far beyond service men and women in full-time operational roles. It extends much further into our local communities and into our very own backyards, be it the significant returned service community out there or the Defence Force Cadets program.

It is interesting that in your role as a federal member of parliament you get out into the community and you see very different experiences and very different facets of people's lives throughout the community. One of the things that I have noticed in the last 12 months as the federal member is that almost everywhere I go I keep seeing the local cadets from TS Cooper. Be it at—as it was recently—Korean Veterans Day, Long Tan remembrance day, Anzac Day, Remembrance Day or even one of the 37 local schools that I have, I keep seeing cadets from TS Cooper. I think that shows the significant contribution that cadets make not only to their own development, their own leadership ambitions and potentially their own career paths into the military but also to the wider community. Cadets are an organisation that is not self-serving; it is an organisation that is about giving back to the community. I myself had a short experience with the cadets with 223 Squadron at Caloundra. There again it was not about self; it was about contribution to the community.

The cadet program provides a significant stepping stone to take a career path into the Defence Force. While I might not have found myself in the defence forces—although I might like to have—many of the mates I was with at that time have found themselves in the Defence Force currently, some of them at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Early next year I will be giving the Petro Fedorczenko memorial lecture to the Australian Defence Force Academy, and I can tell you that at the Australian Defence Force Academy and within the cadet organisation there are countless proud young Australians who are serving our country with dignity and with pride. Recently I returned from a trip to Afghanistan. There on the battlefield I met many people who were younger than I am who had found themselves in the Defence Force after taking that path through the cadets.

Be it on the battlefield or in the cadet organisation, there were young Australians who were rejecting the assumptions that are all too often levelled at my generation. I acknowledge the member for Mitchell, who just might make generation Y—I am not sure. But there on the battlefield and there in the cadets they reject the assumptions that are all too often levelled at our generation. There is a perception out there in the community far too often that our generation are apathetic, that our generation are lazy and that our generation are uninterested, but in the cadet organisation you can see that our generation are interested, our generation are engaged and our generation are committed, determined and willing to serve their country and their communities and to make a positive contribution to our communities and to the future of this country. As legislators in this place, it is appropriate that we do all that we can to support the Australian Defence Force Cadets program and all service men and women in whatever role they might take.