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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 46

Senator JOYCE (Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (3:53 PM) —I concur with the remarks that have been made by Senator Evans and Senator Minchin. It is a very auspicious day. For the first time in approximately 40 years we have the awarding of a VC—the last one being Keith Payne, whom, I am very proud to say, signed my acceptance form to join the RSL. For valour, the whole concept of the VC is hard to explain to those outside or to those who have not had an involvement in the military. This means that, by tradition, he has to be recognised, even by Angus Houston, with a salute.

Trooper Donaldson’s mother was a widow. He lived in the town of Dorrigo, although he was born at Waratah in Newcastle in 1979, I think. It goes to show that people of incredible calibre emanate from all sorts of beginnings. It is something that the whole nation can be proud of. Trooper Donaldson VC has now, as Senator Minchin rightly pointed out, joined the most distinguished and eminent group of people not only in Australia—there are only two left, Keith Payne and now Trooper Donaldson—but also throughout the world. Australia has only had, I believe, about 96 VCs awarded since the Boer War. It was made retrospective to cover the period of the Crimean War.

Trooper Donaldson really reflects the highest aspirations that people in Australia, regardless of their political allegiances, wish to imitate. When we are a nation made up of people of the calibre of Trooper Mark Gregor Donaldson then we are a nation that knows no limits and can attain all goals. With the utmost respect and the highest congratulations, I convey my thanks and my respect to Trooper Donaldson. I also acknowledge very much his wife, Emma, and his daughter, Kaylee, who make the continual sacrifice of having their husband and father go forward to protect our nation.