THE Emerald RSL branch has pulled off an Anzac Day coup, securing the presence of Major General Mick Slater for its dawn service.
The man who is spearheading the Queensland Reconstruction Authority after the summer of sorrow, floods and Cyclone Yasi, will break from his State Government duties to be in Emerald and later, Dalby, on a day sacred to all returned Australian and New Zealand ex and current servicemen, their families and grateful nations.
Maj Gen Slater will also be at the Gunfire Breakfast, held this year at the Emerald Bowls Club on Hospital Rd, before jetting out.
“It’s 12 out of 10 to get someone of his calibre,” said an elated RSL Emerald branch president Noel Mallyon.
“I think it’s really great, but I also think it shows they haven’t forgotten us out here in the country, especially given Maj Gen Slater’s association with the flood issue.
“We (the branch) put in why we would like to have him out here because of all those issues with the flood, to show a bit of Anzac spirit, but we were vying with a lot of other towns and cities who wanted him as well.
“I think he looked at things logically that Emerald had had a pretty rough trot, and there’s only one of him to go around.
“I could be selfish and say we would have loved to have him here for the morning ceremony, but he is flying out.”
Mr Mallyon said there was no doubt Maj Gen Slater’s presence would buoy spirits and perhaps lift attendance at the dawn ceremony.
The major general came to Emerald shortly after the 2010/11 flood to be briefed by the Local Disaster Management Group and key community stakeholders.
He always promised to return.
“I believe his presence will show the Anzac spirit is really strong to get someone of his calibre,” he said.
“It’s not just a military factor. It’s also the devastation we’ve had in the last matter of months.
“The Kiwis came over here to help in the floods and Aussies went over there to help after the earthquake and that really reinforces the Anzac spirit whether it’s on the playing field, the military or in times of disaster.”
Born in Brisbane, Maj Gen Slater joined the Australian Army in 1978.
Until January 24 this year, he commanded the 1st Division based at Enoggera’s Gallipoli Barracks.
The major general’s operational commands have included 2RAR and the 3rd Brigade on operations in East Timor.
He also served on the staff of the United States 3rd Army headquarters in Kuwait on Operation POLLARD.
Maj Gen Slater holds masters degrees in strategic studies and business administration.
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