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Monday, 28 November 2022
Page: 3699

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (13:02): I am really pleased the member for Solomon has put this motion forward today and I am delighted to support it. I will take any opportunity I can to thank our former and current Australian Defence Force personnel in my electorate and around Australia for their efforts defending our country and keeping us safe. The work you do is a source of national pride. We simply would not be able to live the lives we enjoy today if it weren't for you. That's why it is so important that we take the time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Every loss of life in our Defence Force is a tragedy, and they all deserve to be remembered, respected and commemorated often.

I also appreciate that the member for Solomon has acknowledged the families of those who serve. It is no easy thing to have someone you love in our Defence Force. It is no easy thing to be the one left behind. I have always had a special place in my heart for the families of those who serve. They are a big part of our community on the New South Wales South Coast, with two Navy bases in the Shoalhaven: HMAS Albatross and HMAS Creswell. I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise to me when I became one of them. My eldest son joined the Army a couple of years ago, and we are so incredibly proud of him. But, like many, he's based far away, so it has meant a huge separation, and we don't often get the opportunity to see him. I am inspired by all those local defence families who provide such a fantastic example, and I want to acknowledge their importance. Organisations like the Shoalhaven Defence Families Association, the Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre and our veterans organisations all provide an incredible local support service to help families through this journey. I so admire what you do.

We recently commemorated Remembrance Day, 104 years after the guns fell silent on the Western Front, marking the end of the First World War. I was really proud to join with members of the Batemans Bay RSL sub-branch and the community at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club to mark this important occasion. I always smile when I see how many people come along to mark these important occasions. Our community remembers, and we will always ensure our national heroes are never forgotten. It was a very moving service, with students from the local Carroll College reading out the names of the 26 people from the Eurobodalla who went to war and never came home—all young men, all taken too soon in defence of our country. We will always remember them. I'd like to sincerely thank president Brian Wheeler, secretary Les Arnould and all of the members of the sub-branch for their work putting this wonderful service together.

On Friday I also had the privilege of attending the annual corrective services Remembrance Day service at the South Coast Correctional Centre, importantly allowing our corrective services officers to pay tribute to lives sadly lost. Captain Robyn Phillips and Flight Commander Vanessa Stothart from HMAS Albatross attended, along with members of the Nowra police, Fire New South Wales Nowra, and a number of other local representatives. It was my honour to join with them, and I would like to thank the South Coast Correctional Centre's governor and everyone involved in organising this service for having me along. With an electorate the size of Gilmore, it is impossible for me to attend all the wonderful local commemorative services, but I have an amazing team of volunteers who represented me at many services. Thank you to Councillor Liza Butler, Katelin McInerney, Maggie Lanham, Anthony Lawrence, Chris Cassidy, Cathy Russell, Roger Lucas, Tom Korevaar, Stephen Winslade, Jeremy Murdoch and Kareena Markham for paying my respects at Remembrance Day services up and down the South Coast.

Our RSL sub-branches are, of course, nothing short of incredible. Run by volunteers, they provide an invaluable service to our local community. I want to sincerely thank every RSL sub-branch on the South Coast for the work you do every day. I also want to make special mention of the Gerringong RSL sub-branch, who, on 18 November, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Soldiers Memorial Hall. I had a wonderful time at the book launch and high tea to celebrate this great event. Well done to president Mike O'Leary, secretary Jeff McClenaughan and everyone involved.

I want to reiterate my eternal thanks and gratitude to all our local veterans and Defence Force personnel and their families for selflessly putting the safety of our country above all else. We are eternally grateful. Lest we forget.