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Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Page: 954

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (2:51 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Evans. Is the government of a report in the Herald Sun on 9 February 2011 regarding the decision by the Australian War Memorial to deny an application to list Lance Corporal Mason Edwards on the honour roll after he died during an exercise in training at Port Augusta for his third deployment to Afghanistan? Given the family’s dismay at his exclusion from the roll, has the government been in contact with the family to discuss the matter and, if so, what was the outcome?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations) —I thank the senator for his question. Unfortunately, that is a very detailed question about a particular case and I cannot at the moment see whether I have a brief on a particular matter. I have not had any warning of the question and, as the representing minister, I am not aware of the case personally. So I am afraid I am going to have to take it on notice, unless someone can assist me with my briefing papers. It is not immediately apparent to me. It is obviously a serious matter for those involved and I want to treat it seriously. I do not know the answer, Senator, but I am happy to bring you a response as quickly as possible so that you have that, but I will have to take it on notice.

Senator FIELDING —Mr President, I have a follow-up question. Given that it was the Australian War Memorial’s council that denied the application to list Lance Corporal Mason Edwards on the roll in Canberra, and given the importance of having our fallen Australian servicemen properly recognised for their sacrifices, will the government commit to considering a review of the processes and criteria for admission to the roll of honour?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations) —I think everyone in this chamber takes seriously the recognition of our serving personnel, and particularly those who have been killed or injured on active duty. That is one of the few things that the chamber is always totally supportive of and unanimous on. I know we all take our responsibility to support our serving personnel very seriously. I just do not have information on this case, Senator Fielding. I know that makes it difficult for you, but it is obviously a matter of great importance to the family. It is obviously a serious matter in terms of whether or not Lance Corporal Edwards gets proper recognition, as you claim, and I would much prefer to take that on notice and get you a considered response. I do not know what the policy issues are in this matter. As I say, I will get you an answer as soon as I can.