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A soldier’s first duty is to serve, whether that is overseas in a war zone or at home during a pandemic, and we have seen that first hand right now during COVID-19.
Defence Minister the honourable Linda Reynolds joins us now from Perth. Good Morning Minister. Thank you for joining us. You were supposed to be representing Australia in France today. Goodness me, did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams we could be experiencing an Anzac Day like this?
Good Morning Richard. I, like I think all other Australians, never really imagined it. Watching the services this morning just makes me so incredibly proud because what Anzac Day has done this year like every year, is it just demonstrates how united we are as a nation – how proud we are, how strong we are, and how resilient we are.
Yes, I was going to be in Villers-Bretonneux with the French Minister today, but I tell you what, what a wonderful day to be an Australian. To see the ingenuity and the passion, and the pride that so many Australians are celebrating or commemorating Anzac Day in so many new ways. I am very proud.
Agreed. Minister you served as an Australian Army Reserves Officer for 29 years. How special is this day to you and all those who have served before you?
Well Anzac Day is very special for me. It’s special because, as you said, I served as a service woman for many years, and I’m now Minister for Defence. But it’s also very special because, like all Australians, war has impacted on my own family through the generations. So today is a day to commemorate the service of two million Australians who served in the Australian Defence Force, and the 102,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice – in my family, as in many other families.
It's also a day to say thank you and recognise the families, because each of those two million men and women had a story, they had a family who loved them and supported them – just as we do today, because we still have thousands of service men and women serving our nation overseas, and also here in Australia on Operation COVID-19 ASSIST. So we say thank you to those men and women, and we also say thank you to the families. While our service men and women enlist voluntarily, their families are conscripts to service, and they make many sacrifices as well.
So my thoughts and my thanks are with all of the families today who are at home alone while our service men and women are all over the world.
Well said Minister. You are a politician so I’m sorry to talk politics now. You know the Federal Government is going to have to balance the books to counteract the stimulus packages. Will the defence budget be cut?
Richard, no it won’t. The Government recognises that the defence of our nation is incredibly important so during this time we are also doing what we can to assist with economic stimulus. We’ve taken the 30 day payment period down to two days for our 15,000 companies and 70,000 workers in Australia who support defence industry. It has never been more important for our nation to be as well-equipped as we possibly can. So the defence budget is, and will remain intact, because we have to make sure our nation’s defences are secure.