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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10187


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (11:27): I firstly acknowledge the comments made by the member for Makin in relation to the kids of today and the benefits of cadets. The member for Makin speaks with passion on the subject. The exercise that kids do in our communities is fantastic.

I also recognise the member for Mitchell and thank the government for recommitting to the Howard re-establishment of the cadets in 1998. In a mild form of rebuke to the member for Longman, I saw him on the internal television really giving it to the gen Y in his speech. I thought he was very tough. Gen Y may get a bum rap for being very self-centred but I find that kids today—and gen Y in particular—come through when the chips are down. Those of us who make presentations at high schools find that they are so much better organised, so much more responsible than we were. There is so much more expected of gen Y than there was of us at that age.

My own history in cadets is negligible. It was the seventies, man, and it was all about trying to keep your hair as long as possible. So it just was not for me. But the best stories of my mates from school are about cadet camps and about things that happened at cadets. Most important were the stories of the pipe band and the things they used to get up to. Those stories have absolutely nothing to do with training; they were more about getting into mischief. Similarly, the member for Makin mentioned the National Servicemen. We just had the 60th anniversary get-together in Townsville recognising 60 years of National Service in Townsville. Standing around having a beer with those blokes I heard stories of National Service in the fifties and sixties. I also heard stories of National Service from my dad. Those stories were never about what happened at training; it was all about what happened in your own time. The mischief those guys got up to! The lies that they told and the fun that they had! Their performing national service is to be commended.

The son of the member for Ryan, sitting beside me here, was a very strong advocate of cadets and was very heavily involved in cadets. I think she would like it put on the record that, whilst her son had his problems—he and was a problem child from time to time—he thrived on the cadet scheme. This bill amends the Defence Act 1903, the Naval Defence Act 1910 and the Air Force Act 1923 so that the service chief's' day-to-day responsibilities for their cadets will be directed by either the minister or the Chief of the Defence Force. It also provides the Chief of the Defence Force with the power to delegate the program's administration responsibilities to the Vice Chief of Defence Force. This essentially formalises an arrangement that already exists and I think it is good that we have done that.

Finally, the bill makes minor amendments across the three acts to ensure that references made to cadets are all gender neutral. Once again, it is a stickler for red tape and it is probably a good thing that we do it. It is an important acknowledgement of the fact that cadets programs today are no longer male dominated but are increasingly popular with our young women. I support this amending legislation as it reflects the expectations held by the voters that the Chief of the Defence Force is responsible for cadet programs as a part of the Defence Force, despite having had no legal control over them prior to this bill.

The cadets programs provide a great opportunity for young people in Townsville to get involved with the defence community that is so important to my city. Townsville is, of course, the home of Australia's largest defence base at Lavarack Barracks. We are also a proud Air Force city, including 5 Aviation Regiment as well as Navy. Townsville is home to an exceptionally large cadet contingent including the Australian Naval Cadets TS Coral Sea; the Australian Naval Cadets TS Coral Sea, which used to be with Jim Davis, on Magnetic Island; the Australian Army Cadets at 15 ACU; the Australian Army Cadets at 130 ACU; the Australian Army Cadets at 18 Battalion HQ; the Australian Army Cadets North Queensland Brigade HQ; Australian Air Force Cadets 101 Squadron; Australian Air Force Cadets 102 Squadron; and the Australian Air Force Cadets 1 Wing HQ. In no way is that to be any indication that Navy comes first or that the Air Force comes last. As long as the Army comes first, that is all we care about—or all that I care about. I do like my green boys and girls!

These programs encourage young people to stay active, learn new skills and take part in outdoor activities. It passes on the strong values of the Defence Force and creates an environment that fosters leadership skills and respect. It also gives students a better understanding of the Defence Force at a time when they are considering future career paths. It does let you know what you are in for if you do decide to go into the Defence Force. In a place like Townsville—where it is generational, where people retire and come from all over Australia to be part of Townsville and join in our community—it is only natural that we have a large contingent of people joining the Defence Force from here. Cadets programs are a very important thing.

The thing I like most about the cadets programs is that, through the discipline and the training, they teach children today to have pride, to stand tall, to be part of a team, to learn to follow and execute a plan, to accept that you can do better as a team and, most importantly, they are told that it is okay to have fun and to have fun in a work situation.

I support this legislation and I would also like to take the opportunity to recognise the great cadet staff and volunteers for their tireless dedication for this wonderful youth organisation. The work they do on mentoring, supporting and developing Australia's youth is very important and I commend them on their efforts. I spent a bit of time down at TS Coral Sea and the guys down there have such tremendous pride in their charges and the kids that are doing the cadetship respond in kind. They show great discipline but they have a smile on their faces as they are doing it. The parents are very proud of their children. The cadets programs have proven to be a great opportunity to foster young people's interest in the three arms of the defence forces and they have created an important part of the Townsville community. This bill creates minor amendments to the administration of this popular program and I, along with the coalition, support them.