House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Private Members' Business

Vietnam Veterans Day

12:45 pm

Photo of Jill HallJill Hall (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

This is a really important motion that the member for Ryan has brought to the House. It is one that deals with the conflict in Vietnam, one of the most controversial conflicts that Australia has engaged in and one that, in the end, had many victims—not only those who lost their lives and were injured but those whose lives were changed. It impacted their families and their overall psychological wellbeing. I know members of this parliament have conversed and worked with many of those veterans over the years—I know I certainly have.

Some partners of veterans have come together and formed an organisation in the Shortland electorate. These women work really hard to make sure that they get the support and services that they need and the support and services for the Vietnam vets who were so injured in so many ways by that war.

I note this motion refers to Vietnam Veterans Day, which is 18 August every year. They have a service in Newcastle that is very poignant. It has a flag for every soldier who lost their life, and every year that person's name is read out and a member of that person's family is in attendance. At that ceremony, young people who lost their lives and some who were more career soldiers are remembered. We learn about the people who went to Vietnam and fought there.

Similarly, I attend the service at Keith Payne Vietnam veterans hostel. As we all know, Keith Payne was a Vietnam veteran and they named an aged-care facility after him. It has a fantastic outdoor chapel and it is an extremely moving service where attendees are in the garden paying tribute to veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam. I pay tribute to all those who are involved in both those services.

Interestingly, Vietnam Veterans Day falls on what was previously known as Long Tan Day. It was not until 1987 that then Prime Minister Hawke stated that it should be known as Vietnam Veterans Day. Long Tan was one of the major battles that Australian troops were involved in where 18 men lost their lives and 24 were wounded. It had the largest number of casualties of any one operation during our involvement in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1973. It had always been called Long Tan Day and the two are now synonymous. I feel that it is really fitting that it should be known as Vietnam Veterans Day.

Further, in commemorating the contribution that Australians made in Vietnam, I think of all the aspects around that because there were a number of aspects that we as a nation needed to take on board. Doing that on the day of the Long Tan battle in 1966 is very appropriate. I think it is very important that we as a parliament are always mindful of the Vietnam War and all the issues that arose out of it.

Debate adjourned.


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