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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

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Preparations underway for commemorations on the Western Front

Preparations are underway for commemorations along the Western Front with the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, today meeting with the Belgian Minister for Defence, Steven Vandeput, to discuss arrangements for events commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

A day after the unveiling of the designs for the Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, France, Senator Ronaldson attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Brussels.

He also met with Geert Bourgeois, the Minister-President of Flanders, Koen Verlaeckt, the Secretary General of the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, and Pierre Ruyffelaere, the General Coordinator of the Flanders Government, to discuss Australia’s plans for commemorating battles that took place along the Western Front.
“It was pleasing to see the incredible turnout for Anzac Day Dawn Services around the world as Australians mark the landings at Gallipoli that took place 100 years ago,” Senator Ronaldson said.

"Soon, our focus will shift to the Western Front through Belgium and France where the efforts of Australian soldiers were a pivotal component in determining the outcome of the war."

During the trip, Senator Ronaldson also inspected the VC Corner Cemetery at Fromelles ahead of the 2016 centenary of the fierce battle that caused more than 5,000 Australian casualties and claimed the lives 1,917 Australian troops in a single day.

“As a nation, we suffered many more casualties in battles that took place on the Western Front than those incurred at Gallipoli. However, it was also on the Western Front that Australian troops made the most significant advances in the First World War and contributed greatly to the outcome of the campaign.

"I would like to acknowledge and thank the French and Belgian governments for the continued care and respect shown for the graves of more than 45,000 Australian soldiers buried in the two nations.

“The Centenary of Anzac is our nation’s most significant period of commemoration. Honouring those who fought on the Western Front, remembering their legacy and learning from the example they set will be a key part of the centenary programme,” Senator Ronaldson said.

For more information about the Anzac Centenary, visit

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

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