I rise today to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary of the 26-day long Battle of Coral-Balmoral.
I rise to support this motion to acknowledge the sacrifice of the Australian soldiers and their families who courageously fought to defend fire support bases at Coral-Balmoral. The sacrifice of 60, 000 soldiers and their families who served in Vietnam. 3, 000 men served at the battles of fire support bases Coral-Balmoral. These 3, 000 Australian soldiers were outnumbered by up to 4, 000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers. Here, 26 young men and their families made the ultimate sacrifice, and more than 100 men were injured. Three of these men are buried at Centennial Park Cemetery- Sergeant Peter Lewis from Poochera, near Streaky Bay; Private Allan Cooper from Rose Park; and Private William Thomas, a national serviceman from Adelaide.
I have previously spoken in this place about veterans returning from Vietnam feeling disconnected from ANZAC veterans. Veterans who feel they have little in common- a different war, different tactics and different times. But being a veteran is not in the specifics of the war, but the ability to lean on one another and the comfort of mateship.
Our veterans have fought for recognition since their return from Vietnam. They all made sacrifices. I stand in this place with the belief that Vietnam War veterans deserve to be recognised and acknowledged. Recognised for their sacrifice, hardship, bravery and strength. It is with pride that I note that on the 13 May 2018, Federal Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Darren Chester MP, announced that the 3, 000 soldiers who courageously fought at the Battle of Coral-Balmoral would be awarded the Unit Citation for Gallantry. A military unit that is awarded for extraordinary courage in action.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the veteran’s community for their continued support and hard work for our veterans, both young and old. Organisations such as Legacy which I have previously spoken about in this place. Legacy works with the families of veterans, particularly war widows and their dependent children. Legacy currently cares for around 65, 000 widow(er)s, and 1, 800 children and disabled dependants throughout Australia.
On the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Coral- Balmoral, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Vietnam veterans and their families for their sacrifice, bravery and strength. Our veterans are the backbone of our nation. They protect our freedoms and advocate for democracy and justice. Our veterans are our real-life heroes.