Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 October 2010) . . Page.. 5044 ..
Apart from what they do in the facilities there, one of the most important things they do is advocacy for the Vietnam vets—advocacy with the veterans’ affairs department in particular, but also advocacy with Centrelink and other agencies. As well as the issues they have as a result of being Vietnam vets, they are all reaching a stage where they are getting a bit older and some of them are needing greater or lesser amounts of support.
In conclusion, I would say that, while one of the Greens’ principles is non-violence, and I and many people have issues about war in general; we all have an obligation to support the people who have been involved in it in support of Australia upon their return. As Mr Coe mentioned, there is a large list of organisations which are playing an important part in the community in supporting our vets. I particularly mention the Vietnam vets. As I said, in terms of veterans, they are my lot of veterans, you could say. But they all are a very important part of our community, and it is really good that there are so many community associations that they are part of and that support them and us.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (3.38): I would like to thank Mr Coe for bringing this important matter before the Assembly today, and I also thank Ms Gallagher and Ms Le Couteur for their words; I think they are good ones. It is important that we recognise the role of veterans in our community for many reasons, not the least of which is the significant proportion of veterans that we have here in the ACT compared to any other state or territory. We have the biggest proportion per capita of veterans here as part of our community. There are about 5,000 serving Defence Force members here in Canberra, and the estimates I have is that there are about 13,000 ex-service personnel here. Of course, you have to add to that their families. So a significant number of veterans are here, and they are a big part of our community. They do play a big role—I am sure the Treasurer would appreciate this—simply in economic terms when it comes to serving soldiers, but also the veterans play a big role in every element of our community. They are there in the fabric of our community.
It is important to recognise the unique role that veterans play, and I was reminded of this just on the weekend when I attended the 60th anniversary of the commencement of hostilities in Korea. Korea is described as the forgotten war. It was a war in which almost 350 soldiers, sailors and airmen were killed. The majority were from the Army and from the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, my old battalion. It was a pretty horrific war. It was fought in very difficult conditions, often freezing cold, against a determined and, in some cases, overwhelming adversary. It was great to be out there on the weekend and meet some of the veterans and hear their stories and see some of the veterans’ organisations there. In this case it was the Korea and South East Asia Forces Association of Australia, with people like Jan Properjohn, Barry Morgan, Colin Khan and Christine Coultard out there supporting our veterans.
I got to meet Keith Paine VC, who won his VC in Vietnam. He is well known for that, but he also served in Korea. I heard some amazing stories. There was an ex-Army infantryman—either infantry or signals—who was a motorbike despatch rider and who laid a wreath. He had actually been shot off his motorbike in the battle of