Tuesday 18 September 2018
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize

[12.24 p.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I thank the member for Windermere for putting this on the Notice Paper and discussing his experience.  It has heightened my joy at being honoured with the opportunity to go on this trip.  As to your comment about the previous government not sending you there, as a returned man you have been able to savor the experience of being with the young people it is focused on.  I am looking forward to the trip because as the member for Rosevears, I am involved quite strongly with the Exeter RSL.  We have two strong RSLs - the other is the Beaconsfield RSL.  Exeter called on my services, maybe 15 years ago or more, to help them with their presentation on Anzac Day.  I have been doing that ever since.  This year I will be doing Remembrance Day on 11 November.  I am looking forward to that very much.  We try to encapsulate the spirit of the intention of the RSL and of those in our community who want to remember the people who served Tasmania and Australia.  I always enjoy the opportunity to try to create that environment and that atmosphere.

Throughout my life we have had an involvement with the armed services.  My dad was a returned serviceman; he came back damaged from World War II.  He was a 12-year navy sailor.  Also national service and cadets were alive and well when I was young.  I went through cadets; my older brothers did national service.  When the Vietnam War came about, because of the propaganda and the way we were taught then to think about the defence of Australia and defence against communism, I was quite prepared to put myself forward if my number came up.  The younger ones here would not remember that it was all a ballot of numbers that came out in a lottery.  If your number came up, you went away to do national service, which generally led to service in Vietnam.

I missed that ballot and because of my deafness in one ear I would not have been taken on anyway.  I have an older brother, Peter, who went to Vietnam.  He served there as a sergeant and came back as a warrant officer; he developed a career in the army.  He retired as a major some years ago.  He, too, is damaged.  Through my heritage I have an intrinsic link to the sacrifice that people make on behalf of their country.  I am looking forward to saluting that when I make the journey.  Also it is an opportunity to work with young people, to guide them, help them, probably inspire them, and mentor them.

Every year at the Exeter RSL, I go to the Exeter High School and do a program on Anzac Day.  I also do a public speaking training course with the outstanding leadership group at Exeter High School.  Every year they amaze me with how proficient and attentive they are, and how keen to understand our conflicts and be presenters at the Exeter RSL.  On Remembrance Day for the first time we will have a couple of young speakers from Exeter High School.  The principal is very keen to have them represent.  He knew of two students who really jumped at the opportunity to be speakers.  I will be encouraging that school, if they have not before, to submit the names of their students.  I am sure that if they managed to snag the prize, they would be terrific representatives from our community.

I thank the Government for allowing me to be the Tasmanian parliamentary representative on this tour.  I am looking forward to it very much.

Mr Dean - It is a great honour.

Mr FINCH - Yes.