Labor welcomes the Abbott Government’s offer to repatriate the remains of 25 Australian servicemen who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
Of the 521 Australians killed in the Vietnam War, 496 were repatriated to Australia with full military honours.
There are 24 Australian servicemen buried at Terendak, Malaysia and one other buried at Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore.
These 25 soldiers are the only remaining Australian servicemen killed during the Vietnam War who have not been returned to their families for burial.
During the early days of the Vietnam War families would have their son’s body sent home only if their next of kin or benefactor were willing and able to pay 500 pounds for their repatriation to Australia.
If families could not afford this, the soldier would be buried in Terendak, Malaysia.
In January 1966, the Australian Government resolved that all soldiers killed in Vietnam were to be returned to Australia at the expense of the Commonwealth.
Labor has continued to support the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia (VVFA) and the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) in their campaign to repatriate these remains: ‘Operation - Bring Them Home’
We make special mention of the efforts and advocacy of the coordinators of ‘Operation – Bring Them Home’, Vietnam Veteran Bob Shewring, and former ADF member Luke Gosling OAM.
As we move into the 51st year since the first Australian serviceman was killed in the Vietnam War, we must remember that we owe these men, and their families, an enduring obligation and respect for the sacrifice they made.
Today, we right a half-century old wrong.
We offer 25 families the chance to bring home their loved ones from the far corner of a foreign field.
In doing so we honour, equally and anew, all who served in Vietnam.
And we remind ourselves of the solemn duty our country owes to the loved ones of the lost.
MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: KATE HANNS 0423 974 363