Page 2667 - Week 08 - Friday, 1 July 2005

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Moving on and being a little bit more positive, I reiterate my first comments and say congratulations to Clare Martin and all of her team, the people who retained their seats—new blood for the old—and also the six new Labor Party members who got in. I understand that Mr Ted Warren, the member for Goyder, has picked up a rural seat with a swing of 14.3 per cent to Labor. A good friend of mine, Lucio Matarao, was a very strong campaigner for Ted and assures me that he will make an excellent member.

General Peter Cosgrove

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (10.36): At midnight last night—or 2400 hours military time—a great Australian hung up his uniform. Chief of the Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, retired after a magnificent military career. He started at RMC and graduated from there in 1968. He went to Vietnam as a platoon commander and there won a very coveted medal for bravery, the Military Cross, which is one down from the Victoria Cross, or the Star of Courage as it now is in the Australian Army. He then progressed through the ranks.

I first came across Peter when he was on promotion as a major at the infantry centre at Singleton, where I played rugby against him. He played for the army and I played for Muswellbrook. I got to know him very well then, and followed his career with interest. He has had 12 commands in all. I next caught up with him back in 1996-97 when he was commandant at RMC. From RMC—he did not stay there all the time he had to—he went to 1st division, which was the ready deployment division of the Australian Army. Of course, when East Timor happened he was johnny on the spot and went to East Timor; and the rest is history.

Peter Cosgrove has been described—and I can certainly agree with this—as one of the three greatest Australian senior officers since the Australian Army was formed, the other two of course being General Sir John Monash and Sir Thomas Blamey. Unlike Sir John Monash, he had probably never fought in such a major war with such a major effect. General Monash, of course, in 1918 effectively won the war on the western front with the Anzac corps and the Canadians.

What Peter Cosgrove did in Timor was absolutely brilliant; the tactics were excellent. The diplomacy he showed and the ability to utilise the contacts both he and more junior officers, and even NCOs, had with their Indonesian counterparts prevented what could have been a disastrous bloodbath. It was an incredibly smooth operation. It paid a debt that I think most Australians realise we owed to the East Timorese dating back to World War II and expunged some of the shame that had occurred since 1975. As a result of the brilliant job General Cosgrove did in East Timor he developed, I think, a magnificent partnership with the current Prime Minister, John Howard. He has progressed to the epitome of his profession not only as Chief of Army but also as Chief of the Defence Force.

Peter Cosgrove is exceptionally well regarded not only in Australia but also internationally, especially by the allied armies we deal very closely with, such as the United States and the British army. He is a soldier’s soldier. He knows exactly how to get the best out of diggers and his subordinates. He is the first to give credit to his troops,

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