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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 749 ..

As I have said in this place before, I think the veteran community has benefited from a united team, with all three parties working together on veterans issues. I have commended the previous minister on regular occasions for doing so. I can speak again where I have spoken before. I offer my support to the minister in a genuine way to advance this important cause. I thank the former minister for the genuine interest that he showed in this portfolio. I also congratulate him on the appointment of Alison Creagh as the chair of the veterans advisory council.

I hope that we can have bipartisanship and that there will not be a refusal to engage in discussion on the motion that has been brought before this place, a refusal to engage with the veterans community in a significant sense on motions that are going to be brought in this place and the ones I spoke to, and a refusal to address the substantive issues before veterans. I hope it is not just a matter of trying to play wedge politics, trying to pick one side of this debate and come in here and make proclamations because you think there is some political gain in that. I really hope that is not what you are intending to do. I hope that we can work together on veterans issues, but let me say that I am disappointed in the way that this has played out today, without my even knowing that this was coming before the Assembly and with no engagement on the amendments—just a simple no.

I will continue to do everything I can to fight for veterans in this place. I will do that. I would like to do it in a bipartisan way, working together, because that is the best thing we can do for veterans. If it is the will of the Assembly, of those opposite, that that is not the way they want to proceed—if they want to bring political fights from elsewhere into this place so that they can score some political points, have a fight in this place on veterans issues and not discuss these issues with the opposition and with people who have already spoken in this place about how they had suicidal thoughts following their deployments—then shame on all of us.

I move:

(1) Replace all words after paragraph (4), substitute:

“(4) notes that the Federal Government has announced the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention which has the powers of a royal commission and has the additional benefit of being ongoing;

(5) notes that the National Commissioner has received strong support from Veterans’ medical, suicide prevention and mental health organisations;

(6) notes that Dr Bernadette Boss CSC was appointed as the interim commissioner on 16 November 2020;

(7) calls on this Assembly to support the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention; and

(8) calls on Ms Davidson to write to the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs supporting the National Commissioner, and asking that he consider a separate Royal Commission into Veterans’ suicide following the successful passage of legislation establishing the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.”

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