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October 12, 2015

Mr CHESTER  (Gippsland—Assistant Minister for Defence) (12:05): I appreciate the opportunity to speak in relation to the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015, the Amending Acts 1980 to 1999 Repeal Bill 2015 and the Statute Law Revision Bill (No. 2) 2015. In rising today, I take the opportunity to inform the House of an event which I am sure the member for Moreton is particularly interested in, being the formation of a new Australian Air Force cadet squadron in Weipa, one of the few new squadrons to be created in Australia in the past 10 years. I had the opportunity on Saturday to attend a function for the official ceremony for the launch of 112 Squadron. 

Mr Perrett:  I retweeted it.

Mr CHESTER:  The member for Moreton quite kindly did support me on social media in raising the Australian community’s awareness of this particular event. In attending this function, which the member for Moreton is so enthusiastic in his support of, it was terrific to see a number of young Indigenous children being given the opportunity to participate in what is the Australian government’s premier youth development organisation, being the Australian Defence Force Cadets, whether it be Army, Air Force or Navy cadets. In this case the Air Force Cadets in Weipa will have in the order of 30, perhaps 40, young members who will be taught a range of skills and will have the opportunity to work together and not only to learn the values of leadership and teamwork but also to work directly with the Australian Air Force from time to time.

That opportunity presented, again, on the weekend when the young people of the Townsville cadet unit flew to Weipa to participate and welcome their new friends to the cadet unit. It was a terrific occasion and I sincerely thank the House for this opportunity to relay to those listening just what an event was. I know the member for Moreton, a good friend of mine, is very interested in youth development, right across the board. He has been particularly supportive of the cadet units as they have been involved in his electorate but also in other parts of Australia. The cadets across Australia provide a particularly important opportunity for young people to be engaged in something other than their individual pursuits. It gives them a sense of community and a sense of the importance of being part of something greater than themselves. 

As I said to the young people and their families gathered on the weekend, this is one of our nation’s great cultural institutions of civil society where we may need to invest more, to give more young people that opportunity. It concerns me that organisations like our cadets—or our surf-lifesaving nippers or other sporting organisations—are not accessible to all young people of our nation. It may be for socioeconomic reasons, where they cannot afford to participate, or for cultural reasons where, perhaps, they do not feel welcomed into those organisations. It is something I am very keen to pursue, in a bipartisan manner, with those opposite, to find ways of investing in youth development that give more young people the opportunity to participate in the cultural life of Australia.

I thank the House for this opportunity and now yield to my good friend the member for Wannon, who has joined us. As he is catching his breath I would like to inform the House that the member for Wannon is running in the Melbourne Marathon on the weekend. He will join me in the marathon. It will be my 10th marathon and his first Melbourne Marathon. I think the only time I will see him will be at the start. The member for Wannon is a very athletic soul and it is terrific he has been able to run to the chamber to save me from speaking more generally on the omnibus repeal bill!

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