Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program

02 Dec 2019 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (13:05): I want to thank the member for Groom for moving this motion today. I am a very enthusiastic participant of the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program. As I reported to the House last week, I recently visited the RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia. I'm delighted to be able to add some further detail to my report to the House last week. I really want to encourage every single one of my colleagues who has not yet done the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program to please do so. You'll have an amazing time.

I was hosted throughout my visit by No. 24 (City of Adelaide) Squadron, who arranged for me to see the breadth of work undertaken at Edinburgh by the highly dedicated and professional men and women of our Army and Air Force. My visit started at the Air Warfare Centre, where I received a number of briefs demonstrating the crucial role it performs in establishing the Air Force as a modern and fully integrated combat force that can deliver airand space-power effects in the information age.

I then visited the Institute of Aviation Medicine, where I learnt about the excellent work done to ensure military aviators are prepared for the physiological effects of flight. I was challenged firsthand with the difficulty of flying a simulator that mimicked a series of known safety events, including disorientation and hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen, due to altitude. For the record, in terms of oxygen, I didn't quite make it to Everest, and I also crashed my plane. I have huge admiration for the men and women of our Air Force who undertake this training, who implement the skills they learn in real-life situations every single day, and for the wonderful people who provide the training to keep them safe.

I also visited No. 92 Wing, where I was provided with a unique aircrew experience through participating in a training mission aboard the P-8A Poseidon, a maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and response aircraft. The training flight included a demonstration of anti-submarine warfare, low-level flying and sonobuoy loading. It was an amazing experience. Upon landing back at RAAF Base Edinburgh, I was exposed to some of the state-of-the-art technology and practice at the innovation hub and I witnessed the growing importance of intelligence to ADF operations. I visited No. 3 Security Forces Squadron, where I was witness to a number of security procedures, protocols and equipment that ensure air bases around Australia are safe and secure, including the military working dog display. I also saw the Bushmaster in action. No. 453 Squadron hosted me and provided a tour of the airfield and a bird's-eye view of the base and their responsibilities.

Later I visited the 1st Armoured Regiment and the 7th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Both regiments are part of the Australian Army's 1st Brigade and are located at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Here I received capability briefs that also included a display of their combat capabilities, including main battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers. I was incredibly lucky to take an M113 armoured personnel carrier for a drive through the closed training area and vehicle obstacle course, an experience I won't soon forget—nor, I'm sure, will my passengers! Thanks to expert tuition, everyone, including the vehicle, returned safely to base.

My visit concluded with a tour of the No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit, where I was provided with an insight into how Air Force conducts effective operations in the air, surface and space domains, in support of the war fighter and national surveillance effort. During the entirety of my stay at RAAF Base Edinburgh, my experience extended to dining at the mess facilities on base, where I was able to meet a range of incredible men and women who perform the wide-ranging and complex jobs our Defence Force requires.

I learnt so much throughout the three days I spent on base, through both the platforms and the people of the Australian Defence Force. I consider the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program highly successful in achieving the aim of providing participants with practical experiences of defence in order to facilitate a wellinformed national conversation about defence issues. There is no substitute for hands-on experience alongside our defence personnel at the working level.

I want to again recognise the highly dedicated and professional men and women who protect our security andour safety. These wonderful men and women explained to me the nature of their work, equipment, roles and capabilities, and they did so with confidence, professionalism and a great deal of patience. They are a credit to our nation, and I again want to thank them most sincerely for their service, and I want to thank their families most sincerely for enabling them to serve.

I also want to encourage every single one of my colleagues who has not yet participated in the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program to please do so. You will genuinely have the experience of a lifetime and meet some incredible men and women who do so much to keep our country safe and secure.