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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 1805..


MR PRATT (continuing):

government on a particular matter. I support the campaign being waged by Harry Smith to upgrade the medals and awards for veterans of that battle. I happen to know David Sabben particularly well, one of the three junior platoon commanders in that battle. Coincidentally, David's wife, Sue, taught me at school. I met David Sabben in 1967, about a year after that battle, when I was a citizen soldier.

David, my first platoon commander, was awarded a lowly mention in dispatches for pulling together the remnants of his platoon and his colleague's platoon as that platoon commander had been killed. That is just one example of a man who fought in a difficult battle for 41/2 hours in monsoon and dark conditions. He managed to hold a lot of men together but was awarded only a very lowly award. He should have been better recognised, as should have been his fellow platoon commander, the young officers, and a couple of warrant officers who came to their rescue late in the battle—soldiers from A Company, 66th Battalion, mounted on armoured vehicles from a third cavalry squadron. Mr Smyth might like to correct me if I am wrong.

I vigorously support Harry Smith's substantial campaign and call on the Prime Minister and Minister Billson to take heed of this campaign and establish whether these medals can be upgraded. It is difficult for people to go back in history, open up old wounds and try to relive battles that occurred 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago. It is difficult to ensure that these soldiers are adequately recognised. However, in this case the action was unique and many witnesses are still alive. Surely the commonwealth government could re-examine the battle of Long Tan, the medals, and the circumstances surrounding it. I commend and vigorously support Harry Smith's campaign. I urge the federal government to talk to local Canberrans about this issue.

ActewAGL ACT Sport Hall of Fame

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (9.14): I bring to the attention of members the ActewAGL ACT Sport Hall of Fame induction ceremony and luncheon held on 17 August at the National Press Club. All members know that the ACT bats above its weight in many sports. Over many years now those individuals who have achieved sporting greatness, whether it be as a sportsperson or as someone who has supported a sport, have been honoured.

There are two levels of honours, that is, either as a full member or as an associate member. This year's associate members' awards went to two quite amazing administrators. The first award went to Donald Selth, a self-confessed sports freak who turned anything he touched into gold. Wherever he witnessed the lack of a facility or the lack of support he had the wonderful insight to write about it. Donald wrote The History of the PM's Eleven, Cricket on the Limestone Plain and The History of the ACT Cricket Association. Unfortunately, at the time of his death in December last year he was writing a book on sport in the ACT entitled The First 100 Years 1854 to 1954 which, according to his son, will be published later this year.

One day Don volunteered to help out as a linesman, as a goal umpire, for the ACT Australian Football Association. It was short-staffed so he went along to help out. He not only helped out; he also became president of the ACT Australian Football Umpires Association for two years. He was responsible for two large developments: firstly, setting up the two-field umpire system and, secondly, negotiating sponsorship.


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