Australian Bravery coin minted to honour Cross of Valour and George Cross recipients

Posted February 14, 2015 14:06:50

The recipients of the nation's highest civilian awards for bravery and selfless heroism have helped mint new collectable coins in their honour.

The six men who hold a Cross of Valour or George Cross, were invited to the Royal Australian Mint to strike their names onto the new collectable coins.

Queensland Cross of Valour recipient Allan Sparkes said he hoped the Australian Bravery coin shined a light on all Australians who had stepped in to save the lives of others.

"It is a chance today for Australians to realise that there are so many Australians who have done phenomenal acts of bravery," he said.

"Some of which have gone unrecognised, many are recognised and my view is that no matter what your award is, your bravery is testament to the person you are.

"The true test is what you were prepared to lose at the time that you were being very courageous."

The occasion was deeply emotional for Victorian Michael Pratt who is the only living George Cross recipient in Australia.

It is a little bit emotional for me because I see those names that I knew and that have unfortunately gone.

Michael Pratt, the only living George Cross recipient in Australia

Mr Pratt was awarded the George Cross medal for putting his life on the line trying to foil an armed robbery in Melbourne on June 4, 1976.

He was shot in the back at close range by one of the robbers while trying to detain the man's accomplice.

"I'm very humbled by the coin, [it's] something you don't expect," Mr Pratt said.

"On one side of the coin is the Cross of Valour with the Cross of Valour recipients.

"On the other side are the 14 George Cross recipients and unfortunately they are all gone except for me.

"It is a little bit emotional for me because I see those names that I knew and that have unfortunately gone."

Mr Pratt said a commemorative coin entered the community's consciousness in a way personal medals do not.

"The coin is forever, eventually it will end up somewhere in prominence on display," he said.

The mint will strike 5,000 of the gold-plated silver coins as part of a limited mintage to mark the 40th anniversary of the Australian Honours System.

Royal Australian Mint chief executive Ross MacDiarmid said the mint was honoured to be able to continue to share the story of bravery in Australia.

"Following the successful release of the Victoria Cross coin last year, we are pleased to be able to make available the Australian Bravery coin to show our appreciation and remember these efforts for years to come," he said.

Mr Pratt and Mr Sparkes were joined by Cross of Valour recipients Victor Boscoe, Timothy Britten, Richard Joyes and Darrell Tree to strike their own individual coin in the mint's high-security factory.

Though the coin holds a face value of $5, its value to collectors is sure to be much higher.

Topics:unrest-conflict-and-war, act, canberra-2600, qld, vic

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Updated February 14, 2015 15:59:40

The Prime Minister has replaced Philip Ruddock as chief government whip to allow a "deeper engagement" with his backbench but the move has rekindled discontent in Coalition ranks.

Tony Abbott made the shock announcement yesterday that he was dumping the veteran MP from the key position in the aftermath of this week's failed attempt to spill the leadership.

Mr Abbott was today asked by reporters in Sydney if the move was an act of retribution.

"No, not at all," he replied.

"Philip Ruddock is a friend, Philip Ruddock is a colleague and Philip Ruddock was a supporter.

"But what I am determined to do is have a deeper and stronger engagement with the backbench and that means it was very important to renew and refresh the whips team," he said.

Some of Mr Abbott's supporters believe Mr Ruddock did not do enough to publicly rally support for the Prime Minister and should have done a better job of picking up on backbench disquiet in the weeks leading up to the failed attempt to spill the leadership.

But some MPs who wanted a spill are bewildered and confused by Mr Ruddock's sacking - one saying "the night of the long knives has begun".

Others described it as "another captain's call" that had gone down badly within the party.

Queensland backbencher Andrew Laming has gone public with his criticism, describing it as "scapegoating of Godzilla proportions".

"We really needed a week of healing, not wounding, and I think it really has set us back a fair bit particularly because Philip Ruddock was such a respected character," Mr Laming told the ABC.

Mr Laming said he spoke to Mr Abbott yesterday and told him what he thought.

"Regardless of the reasons, regardless of what you write in a press release, the perception when acting in this way in this week will be that it was one of recrimination," Mr Laming said.

But Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Mr Laming had "ulterior motives" given he supported the spill motion.

Mr Frydenberg rejected suggestions the Prime Minister's decision was retribution and said he spoke to Mr Ruddock this morning.

"He understands that this is a decision for the leader to take," Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.

"I think this is a decision that is just within the normal course of what happens within government."

Mr Ruddock is not commenting about the decision, except to say the position of chief whip is the gift of the Prime Minister.

Mr Ruddock, who is known as the "Father of the House" for being the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, will be replaced by Queensland MP Scott Buchholz.

Tasmanian MP Andrew Nikolic, a prominent supporter of the Prime Minister, will also be promoted to a whip position.

He said he did not see it as a reward for publicly urging his colleagues against a spill.

"The reason I did that was not for any reward, but to say to my colleagues that the last thing we should be doing is demonstrating the sort of disunity that the Australian people comprehensively rejected," Mr Nikolic said.

I am determined to ... have a deeper and stronger engagement with the backbench, and that means it was very important to renew and refresh the whip's team.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Mr Frydenberg has welcomed the appointments.

"In Scott Buchholz we have a very good man who will be our new whip, and Andrew Nikolic as a deputy who's also very experienced in rounding up the troops if you like," Mr Frydenberg said.

Mr Abbott earlier paid tribute to Mr Ruddock in a statement confirming the changes Friday afternoon.

"I acknowledge and thank the Hon Philip Ruddock MP for his extraordinary contribution to our country, this Government and the Liberal Party," Mr Abbott wrote.

"As Father of the House, Philip has given over four decades of service to the Australian Parliament and the Australian people.

"He was a senior minister throughout the life of the Howard government and was shadow cabinet secretary in opposition.

"Later this year he will become the second longest-serving parliamentarian in our history."

The move had been under discussion for more than a day.

The two men met after Parliament rose on Thursday.

Topics:liberals, liberal-national-party-queensland, political-parties, government-and-politics, federal-government, federal-parliament, abbott-tony, australia

First posted February 14, 2015 10:56:08