House debates

Monday, 9 November 2020

Statements by Members

HMAS Parramatta II Memorial

4:09 pm

Photo of Julie OwensJulie Owens (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

COVID-19 restricts our numbers to many events. So on Sunday 22 November a much smaller group than usual will gather at the HMAS Parramatta II Memorial at Queens Wharf Reserve. There, we, and many more online, will honour the men who served on HMAS Parramatta II. The ship was escorting a convey to resupply the allied garrison at Tobruk when it was sunk by a German submarine on 27 November 1941. The ship's magazine exploded shortly after the torpedo struck, and the ship sunk within minutes. One hundred and thirty-eight crew members were killed, including 130 Australians. There were 24 survivors. The last known survivor, Harold Moss, died after a short battle with leukaemia in July 2011.

Those of us born in Australia after the 1950s are indeed the lucky ones. We have very little experience of war. But, make no mistake, our inexperience was paid for by sacrifice—lives lost and lives lived; in partners who lost their life partner or welcomed back a stranger; children who did not get to grow up with their dad and some who don't remember them; and the men and women who served in conflict who are forever changed.

On Sunday 22 November I am going to reflect on an awful modern truth: that we lose more veterans from suicide these days after their return than we do from conflict. So, when our veterans ask for a royal commission into veteran suicide, we could do no better than to listen to them. They know what war is like and we don't. (Time expired)