Speech | Veterans Organisations

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (11:55): I rise to speak in favour of this motion moved by the member for Hammond and cannot stress enough its importance. Many of the privileges we enjoy today have only been made possible because of our veterans who have fought, and in many cases lost their lives while serving our country, during times of conflict. While it is impossible to repay the debt, it is incumbent upon us to continue to support and respect those who sacrificed so much.

Ex-service organisations are an important part of the lives of many veterans. In my own electorate, I know that many veterans are members of local service organisations, such as the Vietnam Veterans' Federation, Brighton RSL and the Marion RSL. These organisations play a vital role in caring for the health and wellbeing of the service and ex-service community. The RSL has five pillars: advocacy, services, mateship, commemoration and sustainability. The Marion and Brighton RSLs demonstrate each of these pillars with fierce passion and commitment, and I commend them for this.

I would now like to touch on the importance of commemoration. ANZAC Day is one of the most significant days of the year for both local veterans and many members of the wider community, particularly those who have lost loved ones to conflict. After ANZAC Day services could not go ahead in 2020 due to COVID-19, this year's ceremony felt even more important. I am pleased to say that the two RSL branches in my electorate were able to run successful COVID-safe ANZAC Day services.

I had the privilege of attending the Brighton RSL dawn service. Brighton RSL held the largest ceremony in the state, with more than 5,000 attending the service. We came together to remember those who fought for our country. While the ceremony could not take place at the Arch of Remembrance at Brighton jetty, the RSL were able to use technology to have photos of the arch on a large screen and a big canvas behind the ceremony at the Brighton football club.

It was a privilege to be able to lay a wreath at the service in remembrance of all the Australians involved in both distant and recent conflicts. The head prefects of Brighton Secondary School, Isabella and Nicolas, represented their school with pride while doing a reading for the service. The atmosphere was sombre and reverent, and I am sure many others felt that as well. I am personally moved each year by the dawn services in my community.

The other RSL in my electorate is the Marion RSL, and they were also able to go ahead with a service attended by many members of the Marion community. It was fantastic that so many people could come together and pay their respects to the ANZACs and to all service men and women on this day. The sense of community and camaraderie built through not only the dawn service but the efforts of the RSL itself is essential. It was great to have one of my staff members there representing me at that service as well. The service was officiated by Monsignor Bob Rice, who spoke about how we can and must support each other in all forms and during trying times, just as the ANZAC soldiers did way back in the day.

I further commend the barbecue fundraising efforts of the Marion football club after the service. They really have joined wonderfully well with the Marion RSL, and it is great to see them support each other every year. Of course, the football club donated the proceeds to the Marion RSL.

I would like to take a moment to commend the Brighton RSL president, Jim Nicholson; vice-presidents Ian Petersen and Graham Bulger; secretary and treasurer, Trevor Whitelaw; and stalwart Rod Murray for the great job they do. Likewise, at the Marion RSL I commend president, Ken Parnell; vice-presidents Patrick Wilton and Darren Pusey; secretary, Rob Kreche; and treasurer, Bruce Wright.

Further, regarding the important work of the Vietnam Veterans' Federation in supporting veterans, I thank president, Mal Thiele; vice-president, Bob Ellis; treasurer, Robin Carbins; secretary Mike Hainsworth; and committee member Phil Scroop. I would also like to mention the ever-passionate Doc Ballantyne. Doc was an active campaigner to save the Repat hospital when the former Labor government sold off that facility. I know it brings a smile to Doc's face when he sees the great work that the Marshall Liberal government has done to reactivate and rebuild the Repat. Personally, I am also so proud of what we have done to save that hospital facility.

As a parliament, we need to remain committed to our veterans and recognise the support that these services provide is invaluable for those who return from conflict, bearing the physical, mental and emotional scars of war. Post COVID-19, one of the most critical lessons we learnt was about the importance of socialising and being part of a community. This is ever more important for our veterans moving into the future. I look forward to continuing to support these members and these organisations within my community.

Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login