Constituency Statement – Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Mr PITT:  I rise to advise the chamber of the 8 August release of Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, a movie which I understand was previewed here at the parliament on Monday night and, of course, will be released just ahead of the 53rd anniversary of the battle. I’ve been very privileged in this role to come across any number of veterans from Delta Company who were at the Battle of Long Tan, many of whom have now passed on, unfortunately. I particularly want to note some of the comments from actors Luke Bracey and Travis Fimmel during an interview:

I hope there’s no—

parliamentary language, I’m afraid, that I can’t quite use—

… that make it some political thing.

…   …  …

This is about a group of brave Aussies that really deserve our respect.

…   …  …

We want it to be a statement about ordinary blokes doing extraordinary things and mateship. It is a very Aussie film in that way, it is a simple thing mateship.

I look forward to seeing the film.

I want to pass on some of my local experiences. I was very privileged to witness a conversation between the late Buddy Lea, one of the main proponents in the film, I understand, and the APC driver that rescued him after he was shot at the Battle of Long Tan. It was a conversation that occurred at a commemorative service. I was sitting with Buddy, and a gentleman came over and Buddy called him every name under the sun. I thought, ‘This is interesting.’ He said, ‘You ask this’—once again, unparliamentary term—’what he said to me when he picked me up in the APC.’ I played along, and I asked, ‘Okay, mate, what happened?’ Halfway through this, I realised that this was an annual event, and it had probably happened every year for almost 50 years. The gentleman described when he pulled up next to Buddy, who had been shot, I think, twice and was lying on the ground badly injured. He jumped out of the APC and said: ‘Buddy’—I hope I get this almost right—’mate, you can’t lie around on the ground bleeding. We’ve got work to do. You’ve got to get up and get in the back of the truck.’ I think that probably describes how they dealt with such horrific circumstances. It was, quite simply, terrible.

This is one of the largest battles that our forces have been involved in, so I’m very pleased that it has been put into film, particularly for Harry Smith. Harry can be a very persistent and forthright individual, I have to say. I know that all of his troops have the greatest respect for him. The thing that I remember about Harry is that at Buddy’s funeral he gave a very brief address. I think he summed up how these gentlemen had moved on in the time since Long Tan. He said of Buddy Lea: ‘When I first met Buddy—he came into Delta Company—he called me sir. In later years, in the regular army, when we left Vietnam and we continued to stay and work in the armed forces, he called me boss. Afterwards, when we’d retired to Hervey Bay’—Harry has now moved back to the Sunshine Coast—’Buddy called me brother.’ I think that is such a wonderful description of the relationship between those who have served.

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