House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Private Members' Business

Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention

6:53 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Forty-one members of the ADF died in Afghanistan, and we've had 10 times that many die by suicide. So we have a problem here. We are trying to resolve or assist this problem by the establishment of this commission. It would be well funded, with $42.7 million. It will go back to 2001. It will look at all of the suicides. It will work with all of the states' coroners. What is important about this is that is ongoing and it has all the powers of a royal commission. So when I hear those opposite say things, it doesn't point me to one aspect of it that it does not have the powers of a standing royal commission.

Look at things like the CCC, which is where the member for Blair comes from. The CCC has all the powers of a standing royal commission. Members opposite come in here and say that they want an ICAC at a federal level because it is an ongoing arrangement, and yet for veterans it's somehow not good enough. It is simply untrue when those members opposite say that the vast majority of ADF veterans do not want this commission but they want a royal commission. That is untrue.

There are 15,000 veterans on the Sunshine Coast, one of the largest veteran populations in the country. I'm very involved with all of my RSLs and all of my ESOs in my electorate. I can say hand on heart that the vast majority of veterans that I talk to don't want a royal commission. They don't want something that starts here and finishes here. They want something that will address this in perpetuity with all the powers of a standing royal commission. On that we agree that we need to be doing more, Member for Blair. We do not want to see one more needless death, but I plead with those members opposite to work with us. This is too important. The member for Solomon has passion for this issue. I plead with those members opposite to work with us and put aside the politics. Let's work with this so that we don't have any more needless deaths. I know that's what you want. That's what we want. But it's how we get there. A commission with all the powers of a standing royal commission is what will address this and how we will deal with this in the best possible way. I want to invite the member for Solomon in his speech to point to one thing that this commission does not have but— (Time expired)


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