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In this episode of “Conservative One”, Australian Federal Member of Parliament George Christensen interviews Keith Payne, VC, AO.

Keith’s Wikipedia page records:

Payne served with his unit in the Korean War from April 1952 to March 1953. He married Florence Plaw, a member of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps, in December 1954, and was promoted to corporal the following year. Payne served in Malaya with this unit and in 1965, now a sergeant, he joined the 5th Battalion. In June 1965, by now a Warrant Officer Class II, Payne was a fieldcraft instructor on the staff of the Officer Training Unit, Scheyville, established to commission national servicemen. In February 1967 he was posted to Papua New Guinea where he served with the 2nd Battalion, Pacific Islands Regiment. He remained there until March 1968 when he returned to Brisbane. On 24 February 1969 he was posted to the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV).


In May 1969 he was commanding the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when it was attacked by a strong People’s Army of Vietnam force near Ben Het Camp. His company was isolated and, surrounded on three sides, Payne’s Vietnamese troops began to fall back. Payne, by now wounded in the hands and arms and under heavy fire, covered the withdrawal before organising his troops into a defensive perimeter. He then spent three hours scouring the scene of the day’s fight for isolated and wounded soldiers, all the while evading the enemy who kept up regular fire. He found some forty wounded men, brought some in himself and organised the rescue of the others, leading the party back to base through enemy dominated terrain.


Payne’s actions that night earned him the Victoria Cross, which was gazetted on 19 September 1969. He was evacuated to Brisbane in September suffering from an illness, receiving a warm reception at the airport before entering hospital. In January 1970 Payne was posted to the Royal Military College, Duntroon as an instructor.


Payne received his VC from Queen Elizabeth II aboard the Royal Yacht, Britannia, in Brisbane on 13 April 1970. He was made a freeman of the city and of the shire in which his hometown was located. A park in Stafford, Brisbane, (where Payne lived) was also named after him. He also received the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star from the United States of America and the Republic of Vietnam awarded Payne the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star.


He was later posted to the 42nd Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment. Payne subsequently retired from the Australian Army in 1975, but saw further action as a captain with the Army of the Sultan of Oman against communist forces in the Dhofar War in 1975 and 1976.

George Christensen was a Member of Parliament from 2010 - 2022 who popularly represented the federal electorate of Dawson in north Queensland for the LNP, part of the Government coalition. He explores both the big philosophical questions of our time and current events from a conservative worldview. He comes from a farming family and his background is in journalism and business.

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