House debates

Monday, 22 February 2021

Private Members' Business

Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention

7:03 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I'm very pleased to speak on this motion and to correct some misleading claims from the member for Solomon regarding the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention. This is not a cost issue for the Morrison government. It is not about cost. It is about providing the best outcome and support for our veterans. I think the member for Solomon knows this. He was very quick to try and quote from private conversations without naming names and without giving people the opportunity to defend themselves. But I challenge him to name the name of anybody on this side of the chamber who doesn't want as much money as it takes spent on helping our veterans find peace and support within their community. That is what we are trying to achieve with the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

First of all, I want to take a moment to recognise all Australian veterans, both current and fallen, as well as their families, for the sacrifices that they have made and for their distinguished and selfless service to our nation. The dedication of these upstanding members of our community to defending Australia's sovereignty is something that we are all, and we all should be, thankful for and proud of. Our veterans know better than anyone how important it is to fight for the freedoms we enjoy every day in this country, and Australia would simply not be the place it is without them.

My electorate of Ryan has an immensely strong presence of current and former members of the ADF. In the heart of the Ryan electorate sits the Gallipoli Barracks, comprised of 200 hectares of major operational sites and home to three brigades. Currently serving ADF members live in the electorate, and, following their service, many veterans continue to reside in the Ryan electorate to live and raise their families. Due to the strong presence of ADF members, I've spoken to many of them, many veterans and many support organisations in my electorate about the design of the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, across five sub-branches, as well as the Australian Army Aviation Association, the Veterans Support and Advocacy Service Australia, track to health, the Royal Australian Regiment Foundation, and 42 for 42, among others. Being in contact with these groups regularly, I know not only the distinguished service of our veterans but also the burden that they and their families bear.

We do have an unacceptable rate of veterans' and ADF members' suicide in our nation that we have to address. It's incumbent upon us as legislators and leaders in this place to make sure that the necessary levels of support are provided—that is, actually providing the support they need. It's not about virtual-signalling, it's not about calling for a royal commission because that's simply the thing to go to in these times, because the point that the member for Fisher quite eloquently made previously and that the member for Solomon failed to point out is the significant difference between the powers of a royal commission and what we are proposing—


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