The following were the notes I used for the quick comments I made at the Robert Poate Center at Soldier On yesterday:
“Your Excellency and Linda, colleagues Senator Zed Seselja, Jeremy Hanson, CEO of Soldier On and the Poate Family, ladies and gentlemen.
As we stand in the Robert Poate Centre on Vietnam Veterans Day and the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, we think of wars recent and wars long past, Afghanistan, Vietnam, the anniversary of the end of World War II, Victory in the Pacific (VP) day.
We can go from the intimacy of lost youth, to family mourning, to the biggest picture there is, the future of this country in the most uncertain strategic environment since VP Day.
Of the many things that governments do, preventing the next war is the most important.
To deter conflict or wars, strength is required, not just military strength but national strength. It takes a nation to defence a nation, not just the military.
Only by being able to win, and how you define winning is up to you, but only by being able to win, can you deter conflict. Weakness does not deter conflict from strong nations.
Our aim must be to put SoliderOn out of business, and they are doing such a great job, by not generating future veterans from future wars. But if wars are inevitable, if we cannot deter, we must be able to fight and win a war. At present our vulnerabilities as a nation do not match our own deteriorating strategic environment.
So I say let us prepare for conflict in order to prevent conflict in a way that we have never prepared for war before. Let us never forget that those that bear the consequences of strategy are the likes of Robert Poate, and the likes of his family. Politicians and generals as they make strategy, must always remember the real impact is on people. . So I say thank you, and Lest we forget.