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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1484

Senator REID(10.46) —On 16 April I asked a question of the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) representing the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) in relation to a medal for Australian servicemen serving in the Sinai. He indicated at the time that it was not a hot issue and that he would provide me with an answer, which he did on 18 April. The answer is in writing and I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard for the sake of completeness.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-


On 16 April 1985 (Hansard, P.1036) Senator Reid asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Defence, a question without notice concerning the award of medals to Australian Servicemen who have served or are serving in the Sinai with the Australian peacekeeping force. In reply I undertook to seek an answer from the Minister for Defence. The Minister has provided the following response:

'Last year, in accordance with a Government decision, an Interdepartmental Committee was established to review honour and awards for Defence Force personnel. A specific task of the Committee was to consider the need for any new awards for Defence Force personnel in the Australian system. The need for an Australian award for the recognition of service in peacekeeping and other military but non-warlike operations such as the MFO in the Sinai was considered by the Committee and its views on the matter have yet to be considered by the Government.'

Senator REID —The issue I raised, as I said, was the question of a medal for Australian servicemen who have been and who are in the Sinai in a peacekeeping force. It is the one place in the world where at present we are showing some realistic interest in peace. It is a pity that that will not continue. The Minister in his answer indicates that there has been a report to the Government and it awaits government decision. I hope that it will receive a favourable answer quite soon. The matter came to my attention from a letter from a constituent who says that her husband is a leading aircraftsman in the Royal Australian Air Force in the Sinai, where he has been since January of this year. She says:

After they have been there 3 months they are all given (every country) a medal for the time so far spent there. Every country allows their service members to wear their medals with their uniforms. But for some strange reason the Australians are not permitted to wear their medals with their uniforms when they return home.

Perhaps this is not a hot issue, as Senator Evans indicated, but it is important to those who have been in the Sinai, and especially to their families. I urge the Government to make a decision on the medals so that Australian servicemen can wear them with pride.