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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 October 2010) . . Page.. 5051 ..

While the question we should be looking at in relation to the debate that is happening nationally is whether continuing to have a presence in that conflict is in our nation’s interest and, indeed, those of our armed forces and service men and women, given the current situation, including the current political situation, I think it is important that we do have that debate in the public forum.

I would also support Mr Coe’s words and those of the other speakers, indeed, that we do need to support returned veterans through a range of services. That includes health and housing. Australia does have a strong support system for our veterans through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and this has been carried on by successive governments over a number of years.

I believe that we will see an ongoing, potentially increased need for the department’s services following the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and we will need to ensure that, when we send our service men and women to such conflicts, we then have the services to support them when they return, including the likely complex health and other consequences that they are going to have, and that we as a community are going to have to deal with this due to those conflicts we have sent them into.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.05): I would like to spend a few minutes adding my words of thanks to our veterans community, not just in the ACT obviously, but right around the nation. I think it is worth pointing out, particularly, Mr Hanson’s service to our nation for many years, his distinguished service and what he brings to the role of shadow veterans’ affairs minister. I think that he brings an amazing amount of credibility to that role and has taken to that task with relish and has worked with many different veterans groups to understand their needs and to try to get the support that they deserve and that we certainly believe that they deserve. I would like to say well done to Jeremy.

I would also like to quickly pay tribute to a couple of others who have not been mentioned. They probably do not get mentioned very much in these forums. Obviously, there are a whole range of organisations that have been touched on by my colleagues but I would like to pay a tribute to Neil James, who I think does an amazing advocacy role for the Australian Defence Association. He is the one who is often advocating on behalf of our diggers—he is constantly in the media—in a very reasoned way, a very reasonable way, a very non-partisan way in terms of politics. He will be critical where he needs to be critical and he will praise where he needs to praise. So I have got the highest regard for his professionalism and for his integrity. I would like to congratulate him on the work that he does.

There is also a lesser known group who I have had a little bit to do with, the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club. They are an outstanding group of individuals. They always make everyone feel very welcome. Their events are always a lot of fun, and they do a fantastic job in bringing together not just the Vietnam vets who have that passion for motorbikes but also a younger generation who have joined that club as well. They provide a real support for a lot of defence families. They do some wonderful charitable work. Recently they ran a raffle and they handed over, I think it was, around $41,000 just as a result of the efforts of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle

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