Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Statements by Senators

Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program

1:36 pm

Photo of Richard ColbeckRichard Colbeck (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It has been my privilege this week to participate in the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program. Lieutenant Caitlin Watkins, an officer in the Royal Australian Navy, has been in my office this week, and she joins us in the advisers' box this afternoon.

The program provides an opportunity for members of parliament to work with all levels of the Defence Force. This part of the program is reciprocated once a year with members of the military coming into parliament to see how we work in our offices. I take this opportunity to share Lieutenant Watkins's view of her time here in the parliament this week—her words, not mine:

I wish to thank Parliament House and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force for this unique opportunity that has been afforded to a small handful of ADF personnel this week.

I have been fortunate in the past to support visits of parliamentarians on Naval ships. I never truly comprehended the significance of a visit to an environment you know of but don't truly understand.

It has allowed me to truly understand the level of sacrifice and commitment required by our parliamentarians—that it isn't just sitting week that the hard yards occur but an ongoing commitment and sacrifice to ensure that their local members feel that their voices are being heard. The time away from friends and family that each member commits.

As a Defence member, I do truly understand that sacrifice—

and she does.

While I certainly see a greater level of military efficiency occurring within some discussions and meetings, I appreciate the level of passion that each member brings to the floor!

I wish to thank all those who have allowed this to occur and who have been frank, honest and friendly in dealing with the numerous questions asked about parliament and their roles.

It is reassuring as a member of Defence that parliament is filled with many members who care about their service personnel, have a genuine curiosity about the services, and do see that defence isn't just about physical capability but the personnel that operate and support to achieve the government's intent.