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Army October 11, 2012
DINING with diplomats,
tee meetings and sitting
through sessions of par-
liament is normally reserved for
But it became an everyday affair
for cavalry officer Capt Simon Petie
when he headed to Capital Hill as part
of the ADF Parliamentary Program
After showing politicians the sights
and delights of Afghanistan in April,
Capt Petie had the favour returned
with an insider's look at Parliament
House from September 17-20.
Capt Petie, of HQJOC, walked
the corridors of power with South
Australian Senator Alex Gallacher,
who was one of eight parliamentarians
to visit Afghanistan this year as part of
the parliamentary exchange.
"The understanding of parliamen-
tarians about what the ADF is doing in
Afghanistan is usually limited to what
they see in the news or hear in parlia-
ment," Capt Petie said.
"Improving that understanding is
one of the key goals of the program.
For those who went to Afghanistan
I think it was a life-changing experi-
ence. They got to do and see things
they would never get to do in their
normal day-to-day life as a parliamen-
During his time on the hill, Capt
Petie sat in on the Sub-Committee for
Defence Foreign Affairs and Trade
and Committee hearing on Human
Services, along with attending sen-
ate sessions as an adviser to Sen
"You'd be naive to think that poli-
tics is not shaping our business," Capt
"We were hearing all about the
budget cuts and having that debated
while we were there.
"Seventy per cent of the things I
heard while I was there would relate
to Defence in some way -- even things
like a program about the digital econ-
Fourteen other ADF members were
also on exchange during the busy sit-
Capt Petie had a diplomatic start to
one day, enjoying breakfast with the
"It's something that not just a
Defence member but as a private citi-
zen you would never get to do. It's
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who
was also on the April Afghanistan trip,
found an hour to meet with Capt Petie.
The ADF participants also met
with Defence Minister Stephen Smith,
Defence Parliamentary Secretary
David Feeney and other parliamentar-
"Having an hour of a politician's
time during a parliamentary sitting
week was a real privilege," Capt Petie
"The fact they were able to give
their time to provide an insight into
their working life and how Australia is
governed was just incredible."
But after his up-close experience
of party politics, Capt Petie said he
wouldn't be considering a career
change any time soon.
After hosting politicians in Afghanistan, Capt Simon Petie had the
favour returned when he spent three days on Capital Hill with the ADF
Parliamentary Program, Cpl Max Bree explains.
Shaping Army business: Cavalry officer Capt Simon Petie chats with
his host, Senator Alex Gallacher, during the ADF Parliamentary Program
exchange at Parliament House in Canberra. Inset, Defence Minister
Stephen Smith meets with participants in the Parliamentary Program.
Photos by Lauren Black and David McClenaghan
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