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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10370

Mr ZAPPIA (9:30 PM) —Yesterday I attended the annual luncheon of the Salisbury RSL, of which I am a patron. On 11 October I attended a similar luncheon at the Tea Tree Gully RSL. Both were enjoyable occasions where I was able to catch up with many long-time friends. I was particularly pleased yesterday to catch up with Jimmy Drummond, the oldest veteran I know. Jimmy, who is about 96 years old, is an original and probably the last of the legendary Rats of Tobruk. Jimmy has the best sense of humour of any veteran I have ever met. He can barely walk, he is quick witted and he always looks at life from the bright side. I was also able to pass on my personal support and good wishes to the Tea Tree Gully RSL through their president, Michael Sherlock, and to the Salisbury RSL through their president, Paul Serella, for the Remembrance Day services they will hold tomorrow. As with other members, I will be in Canberra tomorrow and therefore will be unable to attend the Remembrance Day services in my electorate of Makin. I will, however, be represented at the Tea Tree Gully RSL service, the Salisbury RSL service and the Banksia Park School and Modbury School services by my wife, Vicki, and by staff from my electorate office.

I take this opportunity to express some personal reflections about Remembrance Day and the people who serve and have served Australia in our defence forces. There are many characteristics which one identifies with Australia: our unique animals, such as the kangaroo, the emu or the platypus; our sunburnt land with its rugged beauty; our Indigenous people with their rich culture; and the easygoing, ‘she’ll be right, mate’ Australian trait. I believe, however, that the one characteristic which best defines Australia is Australia’s persistent ability to perform above expectations of us. There is no better example of that than in the gallantry of those Australians who serve in our defence forces. From the Boer War through to the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australian defence personnel have defined Australia as a nation of courage, valour, professionalism and mateship. They have brought admiration and respect to all Australians and enabled all of us to hold our heads high amongst the people of the world. For that alone, if for nothing else, we owe them a great deal of gratitude. Historically, Gallipoli was without doubt a defining battle for Australia. The Gallipoli tradition, however, continued in World War II, in Malaysia, in Korea, in Vietnam and in the Middle East, as well as in Australia’s peacekeeping missions. Today in Australia we live the fortunate life that we do, we have the opportunities we have and we enjoy the freedom we have because of those who served and continue to serve for us.

Good men do not seek out war and nor do they celebrate killing, but neither do good men stand back and allow others to mercilessly destroy the lives of innocent people. It was interesting to hear the last debate, with the speakers from both sides talking about what is happening in Zimbabwe right now. Sadly, military intervention is sometimes necessary, and Australia has always responded to the call. It has come, however, at a huge cost. Since Federation, over 102,000 Australians have lost their lives serving our country. Even more were left physically or emotionally injured, and many families have lived with the heartache of having lost family members or dear friends. In fact, all of us in this House, I am sure, can relate to such families or to members of our own families who have served and either lost their lives, been injured or been taken as prisoners of war. It is something that truly touches the heart and home of each and every one of us. So tomorrow, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it is right that the nation stops for one minute to remember the fallen. We should never forget them.