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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3182


Senator DEAN SMITH (Western AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (21:50): I rise this evening to honour a number of Australian servicemen who were recently recognised at a recognition ceremony conducted by the Royal Australian Survey Corps Association of Western Australia and held at the Army Museum of Western Australia in Fremantle. The association has decided to recognise the service of nine members of the Royal Australian Survey Corps who died whilst serving in the Australian Defence Force but who were not on what is called active service. These nine men had either joined the Survey Corps in Western Australia or had served in Western Australia based Survey Corps units. I was honoured to represent the Minister for Defence, my Senate colleague Senator Marise Payne, at the ceremony and to join Brigadier Duncan Warren AM, retired, the former commander of the 13th Brigade, and Major Fred Brown, retired, the president of the Royal Australian Survey Corps Association of Western Australia. Project recognition would not have been possible without the support of Australian Capital Equities, the Returned and Services League of Australia WA Branch, the ExFortuna Survey Association and other generous personal donations.

Australia has a proud tradition of honouring its servicemen and women, and we do so because those who join the Australian Defence Force are prepared to go and stand in harm's way to defend Australia and its interests. If a member of the Australian Defence Force dies or is killed whilst on active service he or she receives full and official recognition for that sacrifice. If a member dies or is killed when not on active service, then he or she does not receive any official recognition or the same level of support. It is this distinction that motivated the association to act.

The Royal Australian Survey Corps has a proud record of service as an integral part of Australia's Defence Force capability. From the earliest months of the First World War until the 1990s, the Royal Australian Survey Corps provided logistical support to the Australian armed forces in the form of maps and mapping, an essential part of any successful military undertaking. In fact, the Survey Corps was formed just 10 weeks after the landing at Gallipoli. Military surveying activities were usually carried out by regimental engineers, which made Australia's Survey Corps quite unique. It is one of just two dedicated survey corps in the world. The Royal Australian Survey Corps started with only three officers and 16 soldiers and was tasked with mapping Australia with the technology available at the time.

During the First World War, members were transferred to the Australian Imperial Force and saw active service on the Western Front and in the Middle East. Following the outbreak of World War II, the Survey Corps was significantly expanded, reaching a full strength of 1,700, the largest head count in the unit's history. The Survey Corps conducted impressive work during wartime, producing 1,400 different maps while also supporting the broader war effort.

In recognition of the Royal Australian Survey Corps' impressive wartime contribution, in 1948 King George VI granted the title 'Royal' to the corps. Senators will be interested to learn the Royal Australian Survey Corps could be attributed with physically mapping half of Australia. When many other units go into training during peacetime, it is the Survey Corps that has to work harder than ever. In more recent times the Survey Corps even provided emergency mapping assistance for Cyclone Tracy.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Australian Survey Corps, on 1 July 2015, the Governor-General, the Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC, spoke at a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial. Perhaps the most powerful words said of the importance of the work are those shared by the Governor-General when reflecting on the comments of the Prussian King Frederick the Great, who said:

Knowledge of the country is to a general what a rifle is to an infantryman …

Tonight I honour the legacy and sacrifice of nine fine men by reading their names into the Hansard this evening: Frederick Walter Bangay, enlisted 29 August 1940, discharged 22 February 1941, thank you for your service; Lionel Christopher Markey, enlisted 4 October 1940, discharged 18 April 1942; thank you for your service; Robert James Caswell, enlisted 1 July 1958, discharged 14 September 1965, thank you for your service; Lionel Bernard Sprenger MBE, enlisted 10 June 1940, discharged 5 December 1970, thank you for your service; Rodney Evan Bechaz, enlisted 4 February 1970, discharged 1 Feb 1975, thank you for your service; Paul Thomas Collins, enlisted 4 May 1976, discharged 18 February 1978, thank you for your service; Kenneth Kinnear, enlisted 27 July 1977, discharged 15 April 1979, thank you for your service; Pantaleo Avino, enlisted 20 November 1982, discharged 28 February 1992, thank you for your service; and Peter John Crabbe, enlisted 10 July 1982, discharged 18 November 2014, thank you for your service. I commend the Royal Australian Survey Corps Association for honouring the legacy of others and championing their cause and their right for recognition.