Assistant Minister for Defence - Transcript - Opening of the Soldier On - Poate Centre, Canberra

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The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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27 February 2014

General, Thank you and Hugh and Janny, it is lovely to see you here, representing your warrior boy. It’s superb. Generals Sengleman and Wilkie thank you for coming and representing the ADF.

I met with CDF this morning and he passed on his regards. Good to see Mark Donaldson here. I think the idea of a patron in chief is outstanding and you fit the bill exceptionally well.

To those who have sponsored this and done great work in making this a community facility. There is not a cent of Government money here which is quite rare in this town. This is owned by the community – this is community run – this is a watershed-type moment in actually how we care for our people and our veterans.

Normally it is the responsibility of Government – we take it exceptionally seriously – the last Government did and this Government did.  The beauty of Soldier On – it is a community driven response to caring for those who have cared overseas for us. And that’s fabulous.

That says community cares.

Look at the Audis over there – I see Richard and his beautiful wife – look at the response they’ve given.

I see Myles Jakeman, one of my class mates – from strike me dead – 25 years ago. See what the work they’re doing with their businesses as we respond to a great need in the community.

Government will always take the needs of our veterans seriously.  There is an unwritten code – a pact – a whispered agreement our nation has with our fighting men and women of which I was one – that is – that we will take care of you as you take care of us.

With Soldier On represents a watershed in terms of a community rising up and saying we will also accept our responsibility to care for our veterans. Our sons – Our daughters. That’s why it is so great with Hugh and Janny here representing not only their warrior son but other sons and other daughters who have served and will serve.

There will come a time where lions will lie down with lambs and swords will become plough shears. That time is not now. And will not come for the foreseeable future.

We have a military because we have a need to use force as the last possible resort to protect our way of life and interests. We may have to put men and women in harms way again – that is the reality of life. There is something special for our fighting men and women to know – today Governments of all persuasions at a very bipartisan level will care for them upon their return. For others drawn from community, responding from community like Soldier On will also care for them. There is something incredibly special about your community reaching out that helping hand.

It is a great privilege to be here to join you all – representing the Prime Minister and the Parliament at a very bipartisan level. To say we are so thankful to the work of Soldier On.

So thankful a couple of years ago, two Army Captains got lost in the corridors of Parliament House, wandering around aimlessly trying to generate some concept and words to the idea they had. One of my colleagues gave me a call and we found these jokers and said what should we do with them? Send them my way I said and we will point them all in the right direction.

It is a great moment today General – well done for you and your team. Patron in Chief – thank you again for all that you are doing. For lending your time and talents not just your reputation and name but all that you are as an individual and as a soldier to work with Soldier On. To the community thank you – this represents some great moment when community can rise and join together.

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