Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program

Last week we saw members of the Defence Force here with us in Parliament House, and I asked Major Zak Looker, who was with me, if he would give me some words to tell me what he felt about the program. These are his words:

I had the pleasure of being hosted by the Honourable Nola Marino MP during the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program last week. This opportunity has been a “drawing back of the curtains” moment for me and I am eternally grateful for that opportunity. Having the freedom to walk the floors of Parliament House and view our elected members conducting their business has been personally and professionally rewarding. First and foremost, I would like to thank you for your collective time during this past week.

Last week follows on from a reciprocal exchange in 2017 when I was privileged to host Senator James Patterson at the Royal Military College—Duntroon. Senator Patterson was able to experience the range of training future officers in the Australian Army undertake, and I sincerely hope this left a lasting legacy on the Senator.

After seeing both sides of the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program, I am grateful to take this opportunity to offer my observations.

I have been impressed at the level of collegiate and supportive interactions across parliament. The desire to serve the Australian people clearly out-weighs the partisan divide. The humanity of the Members and Senators I have had the pleasure of meeting has been apparent and I’m sure my naivety lightened a few moments. More collectively, I am relieved that the more theatrical aspects of Parliament are underpinned by accountability. I hope, as a father, that my three young children will grow up seeing a professional Parliament beyond reproach.

I have met some remarkable people across my visit and shared some amazing experiences and have to say, the highlight of my time was taking part in the routine management of a Member of Parliament’s office. I’m sure it was menial in the grand scheme of things, but I found it eye-opening, nonetheless.

I close by reiterating my absolute gratitude at being able to take part in the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program. The time that has so generously been given by all those who hosted or interacted with my colleagues and me is an investment in a strong relationship between the federal government and the Australian Defence Force.

They are the words of Major Zak Looker. He ended by thanking me personally, as you would understand, Deputy Speaker Sharkie. This is a fantastic program for members and for members of the defence forces. I’ve done many of these, and I want to encourage other members of this House to do the same, irrespective of your background or your views, because of what you will learn. I am always inordinately proud of the people that I meet in defence and I know that they are our greatest asset. I would encourage other members of parliament to participate.