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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 12057

Mr SULLIVAN (7:20 PM) —Like all members of this parliament, I am a great supporter of our military personnel. In fact, in my electorate there is an Army Reserve unit parading. I share that unit with Yandina, which is still in the electorate of the member who spoke before me but has already left the chamber for other duties elsewhere, the member for Fairfax. My father, his two brothers and my mother’s two brothers all served in World War II. It would be unkind for anybody to suggest that any sensible member of our community did not support their efforts.

I am interested in the resolution that has come before the House because we finally, through the member for Fairfax’s contribution, worked out what it is about. I must admit to having had some consternation when we saw the motion in print, because it calls on this government not to do something that it was not going to do anyway. There is no suggestion that we were ever going to change the material that was produced by Mr Scott back in 1998 on a day other than the one that his motion says he did it. However, we now understand, through the contribution of the member for Fairfax, that a person in the department of finance actually wrote a pretty crook letter. I have not seen the letter and I doubt that the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has seen the letter because I have discussed this motion with him and he too is at a loss as to why this motion is before the House.

It must have taken some courage for the member for Maranoa to do the 10 minutes on this motion, because he was the minister who brought the determination into being. Some four years and three months after he brought the determination into being he ceased to be the minister, and in all that time he apparently failed to advise the people who are entitled to this of their entitlement. Not only did he fail until November 2001 but subsequent coalition veterans affairs ministers failed from 2001 to November 2007, another six years. So, in a sense, it is a decade of failure by the coalition government to properly address an issue relating to CMF members who had done their 14-day tour in Vietnam.

There is also a failure in the fact that this motion has come to this parliament before either of the people who spoke from the other side raised the matter with the minister. Common courtesy would have provided that, if the member for Fairfax has a genuine constituent issue in relation to matters with Department of Veterans’ Affairs, that needs to be addressed with the minister before a motion is brought to the chamber. The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs said to me that if there is a problem he will fix it. This should not have been here at this point in time. Having said that, as my colleague the member for Blair has said, this motion creates a view that there is something that needs to be done and we will be taking that to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs to see that it is done.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr S Sidebottom)—Order! The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.