25 Apr 2022
By DAVID MILLS
Anzac Day seems a fitting time to look at the military service of the MPs standing for re-election. Arguably the most high-profile Liberal MPs who are veterans are NSW Senator Jim Molan, whose 40-year career in the army saw him serve as Chief of Operations for the Multinational Force in Iraq, and Canning MP Andrew Hastie, who deployed to Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East during his 14 years in the military.
But the list of Coalition MPs who served is actually quite extensive. Herbert MP Phillip Thompson served in both East Timor and Afghanistan; Stirling MP Vince Connolly, who is contesting the seat of Moore in this election after Stirling was abolished in a redistribution, had tours of duty to the Solomon Islands and East Timor; Fadden MP Stuart Robert worked in military intelligence and deployed to Bougainville; and Braddon MP Gavin Pearce was decorated in a 20-year military career.
SA Liberal Senator Andrew McLachlan is a Colonel in the Australian Army Reserve and saw service in Afghanistan. In 2007 he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross.
Two other Coalition Senators who are not up for re-election this year also have extensive military pedigrees: former Defence Minister and WA Senator Linda Reynolds, and SA Senator David Fawcett.
But the Coalition does not have all the veterans in parliament. The Labor MP for Solomon Luke Gosling served in the Parachute Infantry, Commandos and Defence Cooperation Programs during tours to Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and East Timor, and Andrew Wilkie, the independent MP for Clark had a two-decade career in the army, from 1980 to 2001, during which time he reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the the Royal Australian Infantry Corp.
SA Senator Rex Patrick was also a submariner in the Navy for more than a decade.
One of the other most high-profile veteran MPs, Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, is not up for re-election this year.