House debates

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Constituency Statements

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: Platinum Jubilee, National Emergency Medal, Sheean, Ordinary Seaman Edward (Teddy), VC

10:27 am

Photo of Darren ChesterDarren Chester (Gippsland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to recognise Her Majesty the Queen and her 70 years of service, as she will reach that milestone next year. I wouldn't, by any stretch of the imagination, describe myself as a staunch monarchist, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I do want to acknowledge that a Platinum Jubilee Medal is being struck in the United Kingdom. It will feature a portrait of Her Majesty and the royal crest. That medal will be made available next year to Defence Force personnel and frontline emergency services workers.

The reason I raise this today is that I've received a letter from a Victorian constituent who wants the Australian government to consider, within the scope of the Australian honours and awards system, a Platinum Jubilee medal to recognise Her Majesty's service to Australia as well. Issuing a Platinum Jubilee medal is regarded, obviously, as a significant decision, and it's one that I've asked the minister responsible to consider, in also gauging Australia's interest as to whether it would be possible. My constituent suggests it should be made available to, for example, Australian Defence Force personnel, police, fire and ambulance members, and selected SES, Country Fire Authority and Rural Fire Service members, along with some frontline medical staff involved with the response to COVID. I think the idea has a lot of merit and is one that would signal a great deal of respect to Her Majesty in her 70th year of service.

In the same vein—on the topic of medals—I have previously written to the Prime Minister regarding the National Emergency Medal in relation to the Black Summer bushfires. That was a couple of years ago, obviously. I'm pleased to see that the government, in consultation with the Governor-General, has declared the 2019-20 bushfires a nationally significant emergency for the purposes of the National Emergency Medal and I urge people who served during that time to consider applying for a medal that is rightfully theirs. You can apply for the medal through your primary service organisation, or private citizens, who are also eligible, can go online and submit their application for the National Emergency Medal.

Mr Deputy Speaker, as you would be well aware, our medallic system—our system of recognition—is an important one, and medals have to be properly earned through great deeds in our society. As the former Minister for Veterans' Affair, I was incredibly proud of the work we did, as a government, in relation to Teddy Sheean VC. I haven't had many opportunities to speak on the record about the awarding of the VC posthumously to Teddy Sheean. It took a great deal of work by the Sheean family and by Guy Barnett, a former senator in this place and also a minister in Tasmania. It was due recognition for an unlikely hero. For Ordinary Seaman Teddy Sheean to receive his VC posthumously was very long-overdue recognition, and I greatly appreciate the work by the government and the Governor-General in recognising him.