Transcript - Interview with Kelsey Sutor and Michael McCormack

Transcript - interview with Cowra Guardian



 JOURNALIST: So, how does it feel to be made Minister for Veterans’ Affairs? 

MICHAEL McCORMACK: It’s a real privilege. There are veterans right across the Riverina and Central West and for me personally I have always had a long and abiding interest in military history, particularly World War I. Given the fact that Wagga Wagga is the only inland city with all three arms of the defence, it is the Home of the Soldier where every Army recruit goes to do their training at Blamey Barracks, we’ve got the Air Force base at Forest Hill, we’ve also got a Navy presence in town – and that’s my home city. It makes, I suppose, a bit of synergy and a bit of sense that somebody from a city like that, from an electorate like this that has such a deep and rich military history and heritage, that somebody like me could be honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister to fill this role. So it is a deep honour for me. I appreciate there is a lot of work to be done. I am not only the Veterans’ Affairs Minister I am also the Defence Personnel Minister so that means that I look after the interests of the 300,000 veterans, the 58,000 or so currently serving men and women. As well, I am also the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC. So it’s going to be a busy time, certainly a busy year with 2018 being the centenary of the last year of the Great War, World War I. I have also been appointed the Deputy Leader of the House, so that involves quite a bit of procedural work so far as the running of House of Representatives is concerned in conjunction with Christopher Pyne, the Leader of Government business in the House.  So, a busy time ahead for me. There won’t be too many or any days off next year, but I feel I am up to the challenge, looking forward to the role and really looking forward to getting my teeth into it. I have already had briefings with both Department of Defence and Veterans and had a meeting with the Cowra sub-branch today, with Bob Dooley and his great committee who do such a power of work. What they do at Cowra RSL sub-branch is replicated right throughout the nation. We get this volunteer spirit by these people that is replicated right around the nation, so that makes my job easier, but I am not saying that the role is going to be easy, because it is a big undertaking, looking very much forward to it.

JOURNALIST: Speaking to the RSL sub-branch here, did they express any sort of concerns, is there something you would like to see happen?

MICHAEL McCORMACK: There’s always ongoing DVA issues. There’s always veterans who may not already be in the system but have served previously who then go into the system because they have had some health issues or some complications, or, indeed they haven’t had issues before but they all of a sudden start to feel the strain. The Government recognises that, the Department recognises that and we need to be there when they need our help. They were there for us, for the nation, when we needed protecting, we now need to be there for them when they are in their hour of need.


Ken Grimson