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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1152


Mr VASTA (3:09 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the case of Queensland war veteran Robert Rice, who served in Bougainville and Afghanistan, who said that he was forced to sell his service medals after being financially crippled by the government’s failed Green Loans program. Mr Rice said:

The way the government handled it was absolutely disgraceful.

What does the Prime Minister intend to do to resolve Mr Rice’s trust in government?


Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for his question. I have seen the media report about Mr Rice and his medals that the member refers to today. I would like to place on record the nation’s thanks for his service. I have also sought advice from Defence on the policy of replacing service medals, but the policy is very clear that this is generally limited to circumstances of loss or theft. That policy is aimed at ensuring we do not debase the value of service medals awarded to Defence Force personnel. I am advised that that policy has wide support in the ex-service community.

On the question of Green Loans and the issue involving Mr Rice, I will ask Minister Combet to ensure—through his parliamentary secretary, who has direct oversight of the matter—that any outstanding issue of Mr Rice’s involvement with the Green Loans program receives appropriate consideration.