House debates

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Stirling Electorate: Osborne Park RSL

9:30 pm

Photo of Michael KeenanMichael Keenan (Stirling, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to talk about a very important community organisation in my electorate and that is the Osborne Park RSL. The sub-branch has been located in my electorate for many years and is now enjoying its 91st anniversary. The Osborne Park RSL, like many of the clubs in Stirling, provides important services to my community. Ex-servicemen and women, veterans, members of the Australian Defence Force and club members in Stirling use the services, but they also love the camaraderie that comes with being associated with the club or a sub-branch of this kind.

The club provides many services and it is one of the smaller RSLs in my electorate, but it is one of the most effective in terms of what it does for its membership. My involvement with the sub-branch has been varied and we are very pleased to be able to help the club with photocopying and we are also are very pleased to be part of their Anzac Day ceremonies every year. I have been honoured by their sub-branch on a couple of occasions by being able to make the speech at their dawn service.

They celebrated their 91st birthday with lunch on 10 November, the day before Remembrance Day. It is fitting that this close to Remembrance Day we could acknowledge the service of our servicemen and women. This is something the RSL does wonderfully well on every Anzac Day and other important national occasions. Unfortunately, I was unable to be at the club for that particular celebration, but Mr Steve Ibbitson, with whom I have discussed the function, said that he was delighted by the turnout. Steve, local executives and members of the club are outstanding ambassadors for the RSL organisation as a whole. This has been recognised by support from the City of Stirling by way of a donation of $200 to help out with the running of the cost of the birthday and anniversary celebrations.

Osborne Park is a small sub-branch in comparison with many others in Western Australia, but it is a mighty hardworking club. Like all RSLs, their membership is declining, and like a lot of RSLs, the leadership of the club is been transferred down from World War II veterans to veterans of later wars, in particular Korea and Vietnam. They rely on their community network for fundraising. This does not deter members of the Osborne Park RSL and this has been evident over the last few weeks as they have just finished one of the most important periods of the year for them—Remembrance Day. Like a lot of clubs, they sell poppies to raise funds for their celebrations. This is how they fundraise to support the club and they support those people who have done so much to protect us and to protect Australian democracy.

I am very pleased to advise that poppy sales for 2010 were a huge success and they were significantly higher than the sales for previous years. This is a huge credit to clubs like the Osborne Park RSL whose members are actively pounding the pavement for the greater good of the club. Much of this success can be attributed to the various programs run by the Osborne Park RSL. One program in particular I would like to mention today, as I believe it goes to the heart of an organisation like the RSL, is their involvement in local schools in my electorate of Stirling. Osborne Park runs a great program where they invite students down to the club. They have a tour of the extensive memorabilia and they talk to members about their experiences as they served their country in the various branches of the armed services. This is a very important lesson for our children to learn and for future generations to appreciate. As a result, it is often the case that at the Anzac Day ceremonies that the sub-branch runs, they always have a good representation of local schoolchildren who come down to celebrate that very important national day.

I make brief reference to the fact that many members of this sub-branch, and indeed other sub-branches of the RSL within my electorate, are very concerned about the government’s plan to remove the history of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war from our school curriculum. Indeed, they have made very extensive representations to me about that. They believe that this is a kick in the guts to every soldier who served in that war, where Australia had a very significant number of people involved and in which we sustained a very serious number of casualties. The Osborne Park sub-branch of the RSL is a very important part of my electorate and on their 91st anniversary I would like to salute them in the parliament today.