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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8870


Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (18:23): I too would like to make a short contribution to take note of this report. I listened very carefully and with great interest to what Senators Ronaldson and Macdonald both said. I am married to someone who was in the Navy for 35 years and served with great distinction. When you are in a family where Vietnam is remembered and is remembered very, very respectfully—let us not forget that there are certainly people, my husband and my husband's friends among them, who remember those days, who saw how our returned servicemen were treated when they did come back. Senator McLucas, it certainly is a stain on our history. But it is also a stain on our history that people who served in Vietnam were, as Senator Ronaldson said, justly spat upon when they came home. It is yet another stain on our history that many of our young people serving in the military—who were at university, for example—were told that they were better off not wearing their uniforms to university, or not being seen in public in their uniforms, because of the fact that there was this negativity against people who had served in Vietnam.

But what really galled them was to see those people who had stood on the streets and who had railed and protested against the Vietnam War—in ways that made those returning veterans sick to the stomach—subsequently promoted and going on to careers of distinction. You know who I mean—the Speigelmans of this world and others who went out there to protest and who did not, in my view, cover themselves in glory when doing that. Veterans saw them promoted into positions of rank. That did gall them, and it still galls them. Senator McLucas, you may not have been privy to some of those conversations of people who did return and who did serve in the military with distinction, but I have been. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.