Bills: Australian Veterans' Recognition (Putting Veterans and Their Families First) Bill 2019 - Second Reading

29 July 2019

Senator Patrick: 

My ears pricked up when Senator Chandler talked about Teddy Sheean. Of course, he shares company with some pretty good people: he shares the company of Vice Admiral Collins, Rear Admiral Farncomb, Captain Waller, Captain Dechaineux and Lieutenant Commander Rankin. Of course they are also the names of five of our submarines, and Teddy Sheehan bears the name of the last—or in fact the fifth one in the series. But he is noted amongst submariners because in fact he is an ordinary seaman, and I think that serves as a great testimony to Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean.

I'd like to speak just very briefly to the Australian Veterans' Recognition (Putting Veterans and Their Families First) Bill 2019. The bill will create a framework for government and businesses to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service, and to support veterans and their families, which, of course, Centre Alliance recognises is an important aspect of veterans' wellbeing and indeed of Australian culture.

The bill sets out to achieve this by enshrining the Australian Defence Veterans' Covenant in legislation; by confirming that veterans laws should be interpreted for the benefit of the veteran; and, finally, by providing for the issuing of pins, cards and other artefacts. The pins are to be made in Australia from Australian materials. The new veterans card is a rebadging of the DVA health card and will provide an opportunity for businesses to offer discounts. Naturally, this is at the discretion of Australian businesses. However, the South Australian based company Australian Partners of Defence—who have been operating for six years and have secured over 10,000 partnership agreements with some of the largest businesses in Australia—in partnership with DVA, will be facilitating the offer of discounts and benefits available to veterans via the veterans card.

The bill, however, is predominantly symbolic in nature. While it is a gesture that demonstrates the reverence Australians have for those who have served or are prepared to serve in the Australian Defence Force, it is only symbolic. But it is a start, something that can be built on over time and something I encourage the department and the government to strongly consider during this 46th Parliament.

Central Alliance support the bill, and we want to convey our deepest gratitude to past and present serving defence men and women. Your sacrifices and those of your families will not be forgotten. For what they have done, this we will do.

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