House debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions without Notice

Australian Defence Force

2:37 pm

Photo of Gavin PearceGavin Pearce (Braddon, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Would the minister outline to the house how the Morrison government recognises and thanks the incredible work of Australia's Defence Force personnel in helping our nation through one of our most challenging years?

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Braddon for his question. As he's somebody who's worn the uniform of the Australian Defence Force, I'm sure he would want to join me, as I'm sure everyone in this House would, in wishing our defence personnel and their families all the very best this Christmas and new year—especially, this year, our veterans and their families for the sacrifice that they've made and, in some cases, the sacrifice that they still make today, either in their own lives or in the support of others, including their mates and their colleagues. Some of them have done it over many decades—they've advocated, they've provided support to loved ones and they deserve great credit for it.

All Australians were proud when 8,200 defence personnel at the beginning of this year provided support through Operation Bushfire Assist, which was an operation designed to help those Australians who were in their darkest hour of need. The Australian Defence Force keeps us safe, not just internationally, when they're deployed, but here at home as well. The depth and breadth of their skill and expertise is a national treasure, and we really do recognise that today.

I want to say thank you also to the defence personnel who have been involved in the government's response to COVID—those defence personnel who have been posted up in the Torres Strait, those who have been providing those supports on our borders, those who have been providing support at our airports and in hotel quarantine, and those who have been providing other support across the country to keep Australians healthy and safe. The men and women of the Australian Defence Force have carried out evacuations this year. They've set up shelters and they've transported emergency personnel. They have done our country proud. More than 11,000 personnel have been deployed as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist, and they have the grateful thanks of our nation. As the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology pointed out before, there was a remarkable story that we were confronted with in the National Security Committee where we needed to produce more masks. We know that defence engineers from the Land Engineering Agency, the Special Operations Logistics Squadron and Joint Logistics team worked with a particular company to produce those masks. They stepped up in a remarkable way. In an operation that would normally take many months or years, to retool and to adjust the settings at that factory, our defence personnel worked day and night to make it happen because our country needed that of them.

The ADF is a pillar of society. They do deserve our thanks. To the personnel both serving and retired, our defence veterans and their families, I thank them so much this Christmas for the work that they've done for our country during 2020, our most difficult year in modern history.

2:41 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—I associate Labor with the words of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. This has been an extraordinary year in which our sense of what defines a hero might have changed, and, in terms of our health workers, they have worn a different uniform. But, as the minister has said, those who have worn our nation's uniform have, in their thousands, been providing assistance to Australians in so many different ways. From the bushfires last summer through the COVID-19 crisis, in nursing homes, in the factory in Shepparton making surgical masks, on border controls, on phones doing case tracing, they have been doing it all. As a nation, we are grateful to our Defence Force as always, but, this year in particular, we owe them a debt of gratitude for a different role that they've played but a role which is just as significant.