Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program
It's a great pleasure to report to the parliament about some time I spent in the last month with the Australian Defence Force as part of the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program. The parliamentary program allows members of parliament to spend a week with our defence forces to better understand how they operate, how they interact with each other and the important work that they do.
This year I was pleased to attend the Lone Pine Barracks at Singleton in New South Wales. I was able to visit the School of Infantry and get a better understanding of how the School of Infantry trains our soldiers before they go off to their regiments. It was an amazing experience for me, and I'd like to thank some of those Defence Force members who made me feel very welcome and gave me a full experience—and when I say 'full', I'll describe to you some of those experiences as part of the training. Thank you to Captain Curtis Tofa for hosting me and looking after me during that week. Thank you to the Coral Platoon, headed by Lieutenant Compton and Sergeant O'Leary, where I was able to witness the training of not just the infantry trainees but also the gap year trainees who are going through the process. I was also able to do some navigating training with them and see how their theory based learning was structured.
I spent some time with the Borneo Platoon, led by Lieutenant Nick Maguire and Sergeant Meacham. I was able to see the final stages of what they called def-ops, which I misinterpreted when I first heard. It is defensive ops and it is where the platoon had dug in for a number of days before they had a series of mock attacks against them. That platoon then went on to do their final stages of assessment, in a process called 'hardcore'. It was extremely hard. I was able to witness exactly what they went through and to see the training techniques.
I thank Major Timothy Butcher, the commander of Depot Company, and Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Flanagan, also the commanding officer, for allowing me to spend time with the troops as they were training. It was an environment where, as a member of parliament, I was able to camp out for a couple of nights with the troops during their training. They were very keen to demonstrate 'simunition' to me and on me to allow me to understand just how it feels, in a training environment, when you're shot. I think it was an important demonstration—and it was one I won't forget. The professionalism of those that train our next generation of Defence Force members was something that very much impressed me, and I thank them for allowing me to spend time with them.