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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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Thursday, 26 September 2013


The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, expressed his sorrow at the passing of former NSW State President and National Deputy President of the RSL, ‘Rusty’ Godfrey Eugene Priest AM, aged 86

Senator Ronaldson said Mr Priest had made an outstanding contribution to the ex-service community and that he would be greatly missed by all.

"Mr Priest was a driving force in helping the RSL to stay relevant in today’s society, and ensuring that the community continued to honour the legacy of Australia’s servicemen and women," Senator Ronaldson said.

Mr Priest was the NSW RSL State President from 1993 until 2002, where his achievements included the Glebe Park Island Bridge renaming to the ANZAC Bridge, and helping to organise the International Service for Peace and Fallen Olympians, held before the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A senior representative in the ex-service community, Mr Priest was well respected by all members of the veteran community and staff at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Mr Priest was a strong advocate for veterans’ welfare and worked closely with the Department throughout his time as State President. He played an integral role in health research being undertaken by DVA, including the development of PTSD programs.

He was awarded Life Membership of the RSL in 1994 and made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1997.

In addition to his work with the RSL, Mr Priest was the Chairman of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway Board and devoted many years of his life to ensuring that the Walkway, adjacent to Concord Hospital, Sydney, was transformed into a fitting memorial honouring the service and sacrifice of those who served in the Second World War.

Mr Priest is survived by his son Michael, daughter Carole-Anne and four grandchildren.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Rusty’s family at this difficult time, he will be sadly missed," Senator Ronaldson said.

Media inquiries:

Minister Ronaldson: Robert Hardie 6277 7820 or 0418 432 909

Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

PDF version (105 KB)