14 September 2019


Thank you to the Australian Peacekeeping and Peacemakers Veterans’ Association for the invitation to attend and speak today. It’s a pleasure to be here.

I would like to begin today by acknowledging the Canberra’s First Nations people, the Ngunnawal people, on whose land we meet and pay my respect to their Elders both past and present.

I’d also like to acknowledge:
• Her Excellency, Mrs Martha Mavrommati, Cyprus High Commissioner to Australia
• Pat Conaghan MP, the Member for Cowper, representing the Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel
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• Distinguished guests
• And all members of the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Committee, and Australian Peacekeeping and Peacemakers Veterans’ Association who are here today.

An important part of my working life was with the Australian Federal Police Association working with members before deployment, on deployment and after deployment.

I’m honoured to be representing the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Shayne Neumann, who sends his apologies and good wishes, and the Federal Opposition.

It’s important to be able to honour the dedicated service of Australians on international peace operations on this National Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Day.

Through an event such as this we recognise the approximately 65,000 servicemen and woman who have been involved in over 50 peacekeeping operations worldwide since 1947.

Since Australia became involved in peacekeeping operations we have made an outstanding contribution, but tragically we have also seen 16 lives lost in service of our country.

Australian peacekeepers have served in some challenging and hostile environments, including operations in Kashmir, Cyprus, the Middle East, the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bougainville.

I note this year is the 72nd anniversary of Australia’s involvement in peacekeeping and also the 20th anniversary of INTERFET in East Timor, Australia’s largest peacekeeping commitment and one of our most significant overseas deployments.

In recent times, peacekeeping has played an increasingly important role in Australia’s defence force posture.
Indeed, we still have a number of service personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations around the world.
The Australian Peacekeeping Memorial here on Anzac Parade, where we are today, was inaugurated in 2017.

As Mr Conaghan MP said it is appropriate that it is here on this parade of our history.

This is important chapter in our history because some former Australian peacekeepers feel they have been forgotten and their service has not been properly recognised.

As a grateful community, let there be no doubt – our peacekeepers have made an invaluable contribution to our national security over many years and our country salutes them.

It’s vital that as a nation we honour all those who have died, been physically and psychologically wounded or suffered as a result of their service.

Significantly, this year we also reflect and commemorate the lives and suffering of those innocent civilians from all conflicts who have tragically been caught up in the turmoil inflicted upon their communities as a result of war, civil unrest, or social upheaval resulting in armed conflict.

Events like today’s show that this service and sacrifice is now getting the recognition it deserves.

In closing, I want to acknowledge Brigadier Alison Creagh CSC (Retd) from the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Committee, as well as Mr Rob Woods JP, President and Mr Paul Copeland OAM JP, founding member of Australian Peacekeeping and Peacemakers Veterans’ Association.

Thank you for your tireless efforts in raising awareness of the significant role of peacekeepers in Australia’s military history and our Anzac tradition.

I also want to thank the APPVA for inviting me today and for organising this year’s commemoration, and all members of the committee who volunteer their time.

Thank you for your efforts to ensure that we are able to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of those brave Australians who have served on peacekeeping or peacemaking missions around the world.

Thank you.