Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Last week, I was delighted to cycle around 1,000 kilometres across Western Australia raising funds and raising awareness for veterans organisation Wandering Warriors as part of the annual Pollie Pedal. More than 30 cyclists participated, including former prime minister Tony Abbott and the member for Canning. They jumped on a bike and rode through Perth to regional towns and villages, including Mandurah, Bunbury, Busselton, Margaret River, Nannup, Collie and Pinjarra. Pollie Pedal was founded in 1998 and has ridden more than 24,000 kilometres across Australia, but for the first time this year it was in Western Australia. In that 25 years, Pollie Pedal has raised more than $7 million for organisations, including Carers Australia, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Ronald McDonald House, Youth Insearch and the Paralympic Games, and has supported medical research into childhood leukaemia, diabetes, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
This year, as I said, we were supporting Wandering Warriors, an outstanding organisation that helps veterans, primarily special forces veterans, transition from military to civilian life, with a particular focus on education. I'm proud to say that we raised around $250,000 for that great cause as part of the Pollie Pedal. We couldn't have done it without an amazing group of volunteers from across Australia as well as community organisation Rapid Relief, which fuelled us with coffee and whatever else we needed along the way. Their support, which has been there for many years, was absolutely brilliant. We rode with our sponsors and saw many others who donated along the way in the towns that I have talked about.
Personally, it was a particular privilege for me to ride with those who put their lives at risk for our great nation and served in uniform. Led by Quentin Masson, the chief executive of Wandering Warriors, himself a former member of the SAS, I saw the toughness of our special forces soldiers, but I also saw their teamwork, collaboration and kindness. I gained some of that along the way when I was having tough times on some of those hills. They have amazing commitment, and we certainly saw that on the bike over that 1,000 kilometres. It was a great opportunity to get out of the suit and spend some time with Australians in some wonderful parts of this great country—Australians who are suffering and struggling under the rising cost of living. It was a very special Pollie Pedal. I'm looking forward to next year's Pollie Pedal and I strongly encourage members on all sides of the chamber to get involved. We have e-bikes now, so those who are not accustomed to pedalling quite so hard are more than welcome to come, even if it's just for a couple of hours.