Doorstop interview, Mardi Gras, Sydney

Release details

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Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Matt Keogh MP

Minister for Defence Personnel

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Media contact

Stephanie Mathews on 0407 034 485

The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

Media contact

Ben Leeson on 0404 648 275

Release content

25 February 2023

MATT KEOGH, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL: It’s a huge honour to be down here at Mardi Gras in Sydney as part of World Pride. I'm joined here with Matt Thistlethwaite, the Assistant Minister for Defence and Veterans’ Affairs. We know that our people in defence, our personnel, are our most important capability. And it's certainly the case though historically, and even sometimes recently, not everyone in defence has felt as valued as they should. And that's why it's a huge honour for Matt and I to be marching with the defence contingent tonight, as part of the Mardi Gras, here in Sydney as part of World Pride, making sure that everyone in defence is valued for their diversity, no matter what their background is, we understand how important it is that everyone in our Defence Force and in defence is valued for the contribution and capability that they bring, and that we need to bring in our Defence Force.

It's no so secret that we're trying to grow our defence force at the moment. And that means making sure that we have a Defence Force and a defence that is reflective of the diversity of our Australian community as well. An important part of that is also ensuring that our defence families know that it doesn't matter what their family makeup is, what their background is, they're all valued for the way in which they support their serving partner and their serving family member. It's incredibly important that everyone realises that, it's part of why Matt and I are marching with the defence contingent here at Mardi Gras in Sydney tonight, because we know that we can celebrate the diversity of our Defence Force and the diversity of our country without in any way compromising the national security of our nation and the very important work that our Defence Force does.

MATT THISTLETHWAITE, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Well, it's a huge honour for Matt Keogh and myself to be the first Defence Ministers to march with members of the Defence Force here at Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, particularly during World Pride and I want to pay tribute to Major General Rawlins and Rachael Cosgrove for inviting us to march with gay and lesbian members of the Australian Defence Force. This is a celebration of inclusiveness and diversity. And it also sends a very strong message to younger members of our community and people that are thinking about a career in the Defence Force, that the Australian Defence Force is welcoming. It's inclusive of people from all backgrounds. And I want to pay tribute to those who do serve our community and our nation, from the gay and lesbian community who are great ambassadors, ambassadors for that inclusiveness.

I think on a night like tonight, it's also important to remember those in the past, who were unfortunately, persecuted and hounded out of the Australian Defence Force many decades ago, simply for being who they are. Thankfully, those policies were changed 30 years ago, and the Australian Defence Force is much more inclusive these days. Can we pay tribute to those who campaigned and fought for equal rights for all people in the Australian Defence Force, and that was why I was very proud to launch last year ‘Defending with Pride’ at the Shrine of Remembrance, a tribute to those who've served our nation from the gay and lesbian community throughout the country. It's wonderful to be here, a great celebration of diversity, inclusiveness in our community, and we're looking forward to marching up Oxford Street with members of the Defence Force.


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