Wednesday, 18 August 2010


24 June 2010 COUNCIL

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- The triumph of Australia's extreme left in Canberra today raises an item of unfinished national business. With Vietnam Veterans Day looming on 18 August, I call on the commonwealth to institute a national sorry day to apologise to Vietnam veterans for the disgraceful way they were treated after giving valiant service to Australia -- directly to the defence of South Vietnam, and indirectly to the defence of Cambodia and Laos.

On their return from Vietnam, Australian soldiers were not paid the respect that their overwhelmingly honourable and often humanitarian service deserved. In fact they were often treated with derision and contempt, sometimes being returned home to Australia at night to avoid rabid demonstrators -- the political predecessors to our new Prime Minister and her soul mates.

This was not because of the actions of the Vietnam veterans themselves, but because the cause for which they fought, rightly or wrongly, became unpopular. There is considerable opinion that this mistreatment has greatly contributed to post-traumatic stress disorder and other health problems that many Vietnam veterans have had to face in trying to re-establish happy lives.

Yesterday I spoke with a DLP member who is a Vietnam veteran; he is in terrible pain and physical agony from the wounds he received in the Vietnam War. What I am mainly talking about here, though, are the psychological difficulties and other associated obstacles that Vietnam veterans must face. There is reason to believe that a sincere national apology to Vietnam veterans might well, even at this late stage, help those men who served Australia as well. I call for a one-off national sorry day on 18 August, or somewhere around that date, to express an apology to Australia's Vietnam veterans -- they deserve more from this country than they have received.


Peter Kavanagh MLC
Member for Western Victoria
Parliament of Victoria

"La Cabine"
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Geelong VIC 3220

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