Remarks at Lavarack Barracks Townsville, Queensland


Thank you very much Brigadier and thank you all for your service. Australia is so proud of you. You keep us safe, you and your forebears here at Lavarack in the ADF. Over more than a century you’ve kept Australia safe and we thank you and we salute you for that, for your service today and in the future.

We are celebrating this week the 50th anniversary of Lavarack Barracks here and it’s a very proud tradition. Last year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of your brigade and again a very proud tradition. Australia will always need men and women like yourselves; professional, committed, courageous, dedicated to Australia’s service to keep us safe. We are now, this year and over the next two years, remembering the horrors of the First World War and we don’t face a challenge like that today, but there is danger aplenty in the world today.

We see the challenge of global terrorism, against which many of you have fought – most of you have fought in one place or another, in Iraq or Afghanistan and many of you will do so in the future. It is a truly global threat as we have seen in our own experiences here in Australia and as we saw shockingly in Nice only a few weeks ago. Your work and those of your fellow comrades in arms in the ADF in other units, that are helping roll back the advances of ISIL in the Middle East are of vital importance, not simply in securing the peace of those countries of Iraq and Syria – huge challenge as you know – but also is a vital part of keeping Australia safe and the world safe from global terrorism.

ISIL or Daesh’s biggest recruiting card has been the appearance of invincibility. They created the impression – or they sought to create the impression that they would keep on conquering, keep on occupying cities and regions in the Middle East. But as they have lost nearly half of their territory and a massive reduction in their revenues, as they are starting to lose more in casualties than they are gaining in recruits, that is undermining their ability to promote their evil cause elsewhere in the world.

As you know, all of you, looking around you, all of you young men and women, you’re all digital natives. You grew up in the world of the internet and the world of the smart phone. You understand better than anyone how connected everything is in the world today. So your service here, your training here, your readiness, your deployment next year, your work wherever you are is connected to the cause, the battle against terrorism everywhere else in the world. It is a thoroughly connected environment.

I am so proud to see you today and so proud of your ingenuity, your brilliance, your ability to come up with new ideas as we’ve seen just here with the power pack, the way in which the power pack can be taken out of the armoured personnel carrier and then run with the umbilical cord while it’s still connected to the vehicle - again a good example of innovation. That culture of innovation is so important to success in the 21st century.

Brigadier it’s a great credit to Army the way in which you are promoting it here because, as you know, you are all members of an organisation not unused to hierarchy to say the least. Naturally hierarchy tends in any organisation, unless it is adapted by really strong leadership, it tends to discourage innovation, because that’s the nature of a hierarchical organisation. I applaud the leadership of our ADF, the leadership of the Army, I applaud the Brigadier, Lieutenant Colonel Gabrielle, all of you for the way in which you are encouraging innovation here because constantly tweaking, constantly improving, is the way to ensure greater success operationally and also it makes everyone’s job more satisfying because it means they are more included.

So congratulations to you all, thank you for your service. We do face dangerous times. You’ve seen some of the announcements I have made over the last week, few weeks, in response to some of these terrorist incidents internationally. I can assure you that the most important duty I have as your Prime Minister is to keep Australians safe. That’s my number one job. I rely on you and all of your comrades in the ADF and in our security services and in our intelligence services, working 24/7 to keep us safe.

Thank you for your service. I am so proud of you. Australia is so proud of you and I thank you for what you do to defend us here and around the world. You are defending Australia in a proud tradition. You’re doing so with great skill, great professionalism, great courage, great patriotism, thank you so much.