Defence Honours and Awards

Federation Chamber
14 February 2022

I rise to support the motion regarding the recommendation of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal for the creation of a new class of medals and clasps which recognises the loss suffered by families of Australian Defence Force personnel killed or wounded as a result of their service. This recommendation was made following a referral of the matter to the tribunal in January last year by the former Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel.

It's worth noting that Australia, through the Order of Australia and the Australian Defence Force honours and awards system, already recognises the service of ADF members. However, there is a need for an expression of the gratitude of the nation for individual sacrifice. The tribunal therefore recommended that the time had come for Australia to initiate a physical expression of its gratitude to members and their families. This would provide a meaningful and widely recognisable expression of national gratitude for the sacrifice of ADF members killed or suffering a serious wound, injury or disease as a result of their service, and that of their families, and would do so in a way that allowed existing Defence Force honours and awards to better tell the story of that service.

I'd also like to take the opportunity this afternoon to speak about the contribution many local businesses are making to Australia's defence industry; in particular, a couple of businesses in my home state of Queensland. I've spoken before in the Chamber about the Rheinmetall factory in Redbank, in the heart of the Oxley electorate. I've had the privilege of visiting that facility, and I'm so pleased that a defence force capability is being built in the Oxley electorate. It's certainly my hope and vision, as the member for Oxley, that our region, particularly the south-west suburbs of Brisbane and the Ipswich corridor, becomes the hub or epicentre of Defence Force manufacturing in this country.

In the opportunities I've had of talking to the sector and its industries, I was lucky enough to visit a world-leading Queensland company, Gilmour Space Technologies. The company was founded in 2013 by brothers Adam and James who by sheer willpower built a company which will be launching small satellites into orbit later this year. Gilmour will make lower-cost access to space available, and their first payload will be a bushfire early warning satellite. The work that the company is doing is incredibly important in improving Australia's sovereign capability. The company receives support from the Queensland government, including an investment by QIC announced by the Queensland Treasurer in July last year. This was part of the company's $61 million series C capital raise. Clearly, the private sector sees the opportunity here, as we all should.

The Australian government recently included space as one of the 14 sovereign industrial capability priorities for Defence. Last year defence scientists signed an agreement with Gilmour to develop defence related space technologies as part of a long-term strategic arrangement. There is plenty happening in this sphere, particularly at Gilmour Space Technologies. I look forward to their first launch from Queensland soil later this year, and I strongly encourage the federal government and the Department of Defence to look for more ways to work together to support the company's efforts to get Australia and Queensland into the space race. I'm really proud that Queensland is leading the way when it comes to not only investment but also the opportunities for our Defence Force capabilities.

I'd also like to highlight the work of Products For Industry, a locally owned and operated business. PFi Aerospace work for the Australian Defence Force using their program Skyfall, a low-cost, high-volume, client-customisable real-world threat simulator, and they have also unveiled their Australian development program for low-cost, high-speed surrogate ballistic targets designed to provide enhanced local, area and theatre air defence training for the Australian Defence Force and allied nations. Once again, I commend this motion and the intent behind it to the House, and I want to finish by recognising the incredible service of each and every member of Australia's Defence Force, past and present.