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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3980..


MR PRATT (continuing):

of the Sixth Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment who reside here in Canberra, and to their families. The battalion, which undertook a tour of South Vietnam in 1966, was then 800-strong. It in fact deployed again to that unhappy war zone in 1969.

I joined that battalion a year later as a wet-behind-the-ears second lieutenant. On 18 August 1966, Delta Company, one of the companies of the Sixth Battalion, deployed into the Long Tan rubber plantation in Phuoc Tuy Province, where it was ambushed. It was 80-strong, and was eventually opposed by a force of 2,000. In this rubber plantation, it was raining and it was approaching dusk-in such conditions aircraft should not have been flying-but, in fact, 9 Squadron RAAF did fly in support. The Kiwis and their American allies supported with artillery and a company aboard 3/Cav were able to rescue some men. There were 18 men killed in this battle, and quite a few were wounded. It was a heroic effort. By 1969 these men-and indeed the first Australian taskforce of about 10,000 men and women-had cleansed the province they were responsible for and had commenced substantial humanitarian programs.

There was, of course, in this country an anti-war movement of very substantial proportions, for the most part made up of well-meaning people. It was not a popular war, and there was a split in the Australian community. It is, however, to this nation's eternal shame that the Australian force, and these men, were vilified sometimes as war criminals by the extremities inside that anti-war movement, headed up by some well-known people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 6.21 pm until Tuesday, 24 August 2004, at 10.30 am.


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