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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

PDF version (73 KB)

Saturday, 25 April 2015


Your Royal Highnesses
Prime Ministers
Distinguished guests
Fellow Australians

First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the veterans amongst us.

If you are a veteran, or a serving member of the Defence Force from any country, young or old, would you please stand.

Gazilere tesekkürler ederiz. Lütfen ayaga kalkiniz.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please show your appreciation for their service.

In November 1914 the great Australian poet, A B ‘Banjo’ Paterson, set sail with the First AIF from Albany in Western Australia.

A correspondent with the Sydney Morning Herald, he sailed to Cairo with the men of the First AIF – at the age of 50, he was deemed too old to join up.

He was with the men of the First AIF gathered in Cairo preparing for the Gallipoli campaign and, later, Banjo Paterson penned them an open letter.

It began:

Australia takes her pen in hand,
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand,
How proud we are of you.

From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobsons Bay,
Each native-born Australian son,
Stands straighter up today.

The man who used to "hump his drum",
On far-out Queensland runs,
Is fighting side by side with some
Tasmanian farmer's sons.

The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar
To grimly stand the test,
Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,
With miners from the west.

Ladies and gentlemen, the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops which occurred 100 years ago today was a watershed moment in our nation’s history.

Today we stand here in awe of the efforts of those first ANZACs.

We are rightly proud of their achievements – ordinary men achieving extraordinary deeds.

Continuing his letter, Banjo reflected upon his sense of the importance of the Gallipoli campaign to a new nation:

The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.

The honoured graves beneath the crest
Of Kapa Tepe hill,
May hold our bravest and our best,
But we have brave men still.

With all our petty quarrels done,
Dissensions overthrown,
We have, through what you boys have done,
A history of our own.

Ladies and gentlemen, reflecting on the bringing together of men from right across our new and vast nation, Banjo Paterson's letter concluded with the following heartfelt and poignant words,

We're all Australians now.

Today we honour all of those who have served, and continue to serve, our nation, and their families.

We honour all of those who have given their lives in the service of our nation over the past 100 years, the 102,700 names listed for ever more in the cloisters of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

We will remember them. 

Lest We Forget.


Media enquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381
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 (73 KB)