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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2231

Senator McKIERNAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. I draw the attention of the Minister to a letter published in today's Australian from Western Australian Senator Sue Knowles. The letter implied that Government senators and members of parliament had completely forgotten or ignored the significance of Remembrance Day, 11 November, this year. The letter went on to say that, whilst Liberal and National Party members of parliament were proud to be seen wearing the traditional poppy, `not one' Labor or Democrat senator was seen to be wearing one. Can the Minister comment on the accuracy of her allegation?

Senator GIETZELT —I did see the letter from Senator Knowles in today's Australian. It ought to be within the knowledge of the Senate that for the last 60 years wearing poppies has become part of the tradition of the 11 November commemorations. The Returned Services League conducts a sale both of poppies and of badges to raise funds as well as to commemorate 11 November 1918. I was surprised to read Senator Knowles's comments, because while I concede that many Opposition senators and members were wearing poppies, many Government senators and members were wearing badges which cost some $10 each, showing a considerably greater contribution to the commemorative nature of 11 November 1918. The point in purchasing those badges was not only to commemorate the occasion but also to make a contribution to the RSL welfare funds, which are always in need of considerable public support.

I well remember wearing a badge on that day which, incidentally, cost $10, as did those worn by many other Government members and senators. The Prime Minister wore such a badge at the ceremony in Canberra that he attended with me and which was attended also by other members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives from the Opposition and the Government. Any suggestion that somehow or other Opposition members and senators were more concerned about 11 November as Remembrance Day compared with the contribution of Government members falls flat when the facts are known. I am surprised that a new senator would make such a comparison in a letter to the newspapers.