Lance Corporal Mario Giovine

Thursday 02 May, 2024

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley) (15:17): Today, I would like to discuss a very serious matter. I want to talk today about Mario Giovine. Mario Giovine is 99 years old. He is the oldest living war veteran of Magill RSL, and I want to thank him for his service. He is an absolute champion. I am looking forward to celebrating 100 years with him in the not too distant future. I stand today to pay tribute to this true Australian hero, Mario Giovine. He is 99 years old, as I said, a war veteran in my own electorate of Hartley. I have had the honour of meeting him several times but again recently during an ANZAC Day dawn service on 25 April at The Gums Reserve.

Mario Giovine was born in Canelli in the north of Italy. His service number was S112033 and he was better known as Lance Corporal Mario Giovine. He was born into a farming family. Unfortunately, his father's farm had some challenges at the time. The Italian government knew the troubles that many of these farming families were having, and so what they did was provide a small amount of money to assist families to migrate to new countries. The family came out to Australia, not knowing the language, not knowing what to expect, but they had a crack and they made a new life of it. Of course, he also contributed and even went to war for his new country.

When he was four years old, Mario's family took the offer and found themselves settling on a farm in Summertown. He moved to various places since then, and now, of course, he is in Magill. He was only 13 years old when he left school. He found a job at Rossiter's boot factory and was a bootmaker right through until his retirement at age 60.

At age 18, Mario enlisted in the Australian Army at Wayville on 18 January 1943 to serve his new nation during World War II. He trained at Woodside before he was sent to several locations, including Dubbo in New South Wales and also Queensland. His first deployment came just over a year later on 20 January 1944 in the 4th Infantry Battalion, 8th Brigade, serving in places like New Guinea, Markham, Ramu Valley and other various campaigns. His second deployment was on 1 May 1945 in the 4th Infantry Battalion AMF serving in New Guinea campaigns again.

Mario said that he later met with the Japanese enemy when he was guarding camp in New Guinea post-war. Hearing his comments, he was quite remarkable. He did not take any of it personally despite, of course, the extremely traumatic events that he would have seen and potentially would have had to carry out as well. He was so stoic about the experience. He went on to say that 'it was a good experience, that was; the Japanese fellas weren't bad fellas'—they were there to do their job and he was there to do his job. That is absolutely powerful stuff. He even said that one of the Japanese fellas made him silk pyjamas from a parachute.

Lance Corporal Mario Giovine was discharged on 26 July 1946 and returned to Adelaide. As mentioned, I had the honour of meeting him again only last week or so, where he shared his stories of his service through his grandson, Drew, who did an absolutely amazing job. It was fantastic to see thousands of people who were gathered there at The Gums Reserve paying tribute to all those who have served our great nation.

As I pointed out, Mario is the oldest war veteran to have served our country still involved at the Magill RSL. I want to thank him for his extraordinary service to this country. He joined the RSL in 2012 because by then he was probably around age 90 or so. He found that he had stopped marching because no-one from his unit was left to march with, so he joined the RSL.

The RSL has given him this new sanctuary, as stated by his grandson, Drew. It now allows him to meet with fellow veterans with similar stories. He now joins them in marching, sharing a drink with his RSL comrades as well. He is a regular at Friday schnitzel night. He also enjoys going to the Hectorville Football Club, where he is a life member and where G's Cafe is actually named after him and his late wife, Jean.

Mario, congratulations. I wish you all the very best for your 100-year celebrations. I am looking forward to catching up with you for a parmy and a beer on your 100th birthday.