Feb 5, 2020

TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP INTERVIEW – CANBERRA – WEDNESDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2020

SUBJECTS: Announcement of an inquiry into veteran suicide.

LUKE GOSLING, MEMBER FOR SOLOMON: Good morning. Federal Labor has been pushing for an inquiry into veteran suicide in this country for a long time now. I just want to thank Albo for his leadership in pushing this as a response from the families who have lost their loved ones. Very clearly, we have got a serious problem in this country when it comes to providing the support to people who are traumatised. And we welcome the fact that the Federal Government has said that there will be some sort of inquiry into veteran suicide. We obviously need more detail. So, we look forward to getting that detail and then working with them to make sure that our serving people and their families are given the best possible support that our nation can possibly provide.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Luke. Last year, Labor called for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide. I did that after meeting with Julie-Ann Finney, a woman who lost her son, David, at around about this time last year. There have been too many suicides of veterans. A loss of life of people who have served their country. Quite clearly, we need a thorough investigation. And the announcement that this would occur, with the powers of a Royal Commission, is one that, on face-value, Labor supports. I spoke to Julie-Ann Finney last week. It was the day after the anniversary of her son’s passing. She hadn’t visited her son’s grave in all of that time, because she felt that she couldn’t until there was a thorough investigation and a Royal Commission level investigation into the suicide of veterans just like her son David. I spoke to her this morning, and she visited David’s grave last night. That is an incredibly moving thing. This is a powerful woman. A powerful Australian, who has used her voice and her grief to channel it into assisting others. She collected a petition with 300,000 signatures. And that is an extraordinary effort. So, Labor will approach this issue in a positive way and join with the Government in participating in this process. It’s very clear that we owe people who put on the uniform and put their lives on the line for their fellow Australians a great debt. And the fact is that this is an issue which is beyond normal statistics and normal variations. We know the figures. And Luke Gosling and Shayne Neumann, our Shadow Minister, have been very strong in pointing out just how tragic this is.

JOURNALIST: You were calling for a Royal Commission. This is not that. Does it go far enough?

ALBANESE: Well, we would have preferred a Royal Commission to be very clear. And were Labor in Government, we would have had a Royal Commission. But this is an important step forward. And the release to the media suggests that this will have the powers of a Royal Commission. We will examine the detail. But we except that is what is necessary. We need to really get to the bottom of this. And veterans have contacted me and family members since we made our announcement. Their response has been, quite frankly, overwhelming of people throughout the country supporting a Royal Commission. The Government hasn’t made that step. Well, that’s a decision for it. It is the Government. Only Governments can call Royal Commissions. But we don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good here. What we need is a step forward. This is a positive step forward. Thanks.

ENDS