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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12136

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (10:19): It was my great honour on 1 September 2015 to attend the 50th birthday of 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, at Horseshoe Lines at RAAF Base Edinburgh in my electorate. The 7th Battalion was raised on 1 September 1965 in Puckapunyal in Victoria with a cadre of nine officers commanded by the first commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Eric Smith. This was followed in October with the influx of 342 officers and soldiers from 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and subsequently populated by a tranche of national servicemen in December 1965.

We were most fortunate at the 50th birthday to have the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC (Retd) and Lady Cosgrove attend. His Excellency recounted his days in Vietnam and his association with 7th Battalion. Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Australia Regiment and Repatriation Commissioner of the Department of Veterans' Affairs also attended, as did Brigadier Mick Ryan. From Defence SA, we had Mr Mike Callen.

One particularly important event at this ceremony was the consecration of the rose garden. It was my great honour to lay a poppy for Private David Milford, who was killed in action on 6 August 1967 during the battalion's tour of Vietnam in the Battle of Suoi Chau Pha in the Phuoc Tuy Province. He was a regular solider who was born in Castlemaine in Victoria and was buried at Harcourt Cemetery in Victoria. He served in 7th Battalion from 8 April 1967 until his death on 6 August. It was a particularly poignant ceremony. There were many families there, and of course it is a very important part of 7th Battalion's history.

I would also like to thank Mr Mark Moloney and Warrant Officer Class Two John Lines MG, who lent their names to the Moloney-Lines Award for the best junior leader in 7th RAR. The inaugural winner was Corporal Eustratos Pantazis. I would also like to thank Urrbrae Agricultural High School staff and students for their care in raising the battalion mascot, Willie the Pig.

As always, I was impressed with the professionalism of 7th Battalion and their great contribution to our Army, to our defence forces and to the nation. I know that they will always put their duty first.