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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 3718

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (15:13): Mr Speaker, on indulgence—we acknowledge and honour the two Vietnam veterans who are joining us today—Bill McLellan, who has joined us with his wife, Kathy, and Harry Northwood, who has joined us with his wife, Marietta—who served in 1RAR Task Force, and, 50 years ago, were engaged in Australia's longest and most costly battle of the Vietnam War at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral. The Australian Task Force commander called those battles some of the heaviest fighting that the Task Force ever undertook.

Twenty-six Australians made the supreme sacrifice in 3½ weeks at Coral and Balmoral. A hundred Australians were wounded. Five New Zealanders and five American soldiers were also wounded. At least 270 of the Vietnamese forces were killed, although we'll never know, of course, the true figure.

The battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral are not widely known in Australia, yet they are among the most important of our country's long commitment to the war in Vietnam. We remember all of those who served in those battles of Coral and Balmoral. We remember all of the Australians who served in Vietnam. We honour all of the Australians who have served, to fight and die to secure the freedoms we enjoy in this parliament. It is no accident that we look across the lake at the Australian War Memorial that honours the sacrifice of those men and women. Over 100,000 through all the generations have made the supreme sacrifice to keep us free, and their descendants are doing so today.

On Sunday there will be a memorial service at the Vietnam Forces National Memorial to honour the veterans of the battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral. At that service I know that all will remember that the best way to honour the veterans, whether of the Vietnam War or of a century ago in the trenches of Flanders—the best way to honour those men and women who fought, served and died—is to support the service men and women, the veterans and their families of today.