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Kapooka 70th Anniversary March-out Parade, Wagga Wagga, NSW

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Wiradjuri People, and pay my respects to their elders past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good morning, all. Linda and I are delighted to be back here at Kapooka, the Home of the Soldier, after a number of years.

I thank the Commandant of the Army Recruit Training Centre, Colonel James Hammett, for the invitation to be here today, particularly on this significant birthday for Kapooka; Commanding Officer, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Deacon, for his invitation as well. I acknowledge the staff here at Kapooka, the families and friends watching from home today and, of course, the Army's newest soldiers.

When I was a Platoon Commander here many years ago, this day became known to me as ‘It’s a bloody miracle day!’ You wonder why. In my day, when your predecessors marched off the parade and went up to your canteen and mess afterwards, I had many a father come up to me and say, ‘I don't know what you did, mate, but it's a bloody miracle’ that so-and-so made it through!

And that's what we're seeing today. The product of hard work. It's not really a miracle. It’s the product of the work put in by your staff and all here at Kapooka – to see you through your training. It is also the product of your families and friends who have supported you during this 83-day journey. But more than that, it’s a product of your determination, your desire, to complete this training and to become an Australian soldier.

There are a lot of congratulations involved in each of those levels of contribution to where we are today. But mostly it belongs to you. So, well done. I’d like those gathered here today on behalf of the families to applaud and acknowledge this significant achievement in these young people's lives. Well done.


Is it going to be a long speech? Given that Colonel Hammett has decided to remind me that I'm here as a result of the training and that it is also raining, I'll cut to the chase.

You are joining an Army of excellence. You are joining an Army with a very proud tradition. You move out now to your separate corps and move through that next phase of your Army training. Don't forget the basics that you have been taught here. If there is one thing I learned from training at Kapooka, it is that it is about people.

Many of you will go on now to be senior leaders in the future. Don't forget that this job is about the person standing next to you on parade today – looking after them, caring for them, making sure they're well led and taking them into battle in the best possible condition. You are all part of that effort now.

I, again, thank the staff. You represent 70 years of training at Kapooka; 70 years of dedicated early mornings, long days, difficult conversations sometimes – looking people in the eye and telling them something that they don't want to hear. That's tough work. You've been doing it here for 70 years and the product we see on parade today is why we do it.

One of my predecessors as Governor of New South Wales, Sir Roden Cutler, opened the recruit training battalion many, many years ago. He was a Victoria Cross Recipient and came here to do that. Today, we honoured Corporal Cameron Baird VC, MG for his service to our nation. He too was a product of this training battalion, as are you.

To the families watching online, unable to attend today’s parade because of COVID restrictions, can I say that Linda and I feel for you. It must be terribly disappointing for you not to be able to attend such a marvellous occasion in the lives of these young people. From experience, we know the joy, the satisfaction and the pride that comes from being here on this day, watching them march-out. We are here, in a sense, as your family today. You, and your sons and daughters, enter a new family today as well.

Congratulations to all. Best wishes as you move on now with your training. Make the best of it. I wish you all a very successful career in the future. Good luck and good soldiering.

Thank you.