Related ministers and contacts
The Hon Matt Keogh MP
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Stephanie Mathews: 0407 034 485
The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP
Assistant Minister for Defence
Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Assistant Minister for the Republic
Ben Leeson: 0404 648 275
25 February 2023
JULIA BRADLEY, HOST: This is the first year that Defence Ministers have marched in the Mardi Gras?
MATT KEOGH, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL: So, this year is the first year that Ministers have ever marched with the defence contingent, so myself as Minister for Defence Personnel, and Matt as the Assistant Minister for Defence and Veterans’ Affairs. And marching with the defence contingent, first time it’s ever happened, it's a huge honour for us, but also really recognising and valuing the diversity in our Defence Force.
BRADLEY: Do you think a lot has changed in terms of attitudes over the last few years?
MINISTER KEOGH: I think it's pretty clear to people in defence that everyone in defence is valuable, no matter what their background, and that's a really important message that we want to send to you now, participation tonight, and as a government overall, that we value diversity in our Defence Force. That's really important in developing the best capability that we're more reflective of Australian society as well. Now, people are our greatest capability in defence, and being able to celebrate that diversity, different backgrounds tonight, and other nights like it, is a really important part of how we can do that. And in no way does that detract from the primary purpose, of course, which is defending our nation and protecting our national security. But we're able to do that better with a more diverse background across our entire Defence Force.
BRADLEY: Are you looking forward to it, have you been practicing your march?
MATT THISTLETHWAITE, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: We're certainly looking forward to marching up Oxford Street with members of the Australian Defence Force. This is a wonderful celebration of pride, it's a wonderful celebration of inclusiveness and diversity. But it also sends, I think, a strong message to younger Australians that might be thinking about a career in the Defence Force. It says that the Defence Force is welcoming and inclusive, and it's a place where no matter who you are, or where you're from, or who you love, you are welcome in the Australian Defence Force.
BRADLEY: And it’s going to be a big night, the first one since COVID, are you looking forward to it?
MINISTER KEOGH: It’s going to be a huge for everyone who's participating. I think everyone's really excited, and we can see lots of colour and movement behind us. We look forward to being a part of that in showing the value of our Defence Force, the great diversity that it contains a capability that brings importantly, for our nation. I'm sure we will all have a very good time, but I don't think anyone wants to see either of us doing much boogieing!
BRADLEY: I love it, thank you so much.
ASSISTANT MINISTER THISTLETHWAITE: No worries, thanks.
MINISTER KEOGH: Thank you.