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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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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT ON THE CENTENARY OF ANZAC AND ANZAC DAY 2015

At the last election, the Government promised to take a hands-on approach to the commemoration of the Centenary of Anzac.  We said:

The Centenary of Anzac will be a period of national reflection, remembrance and commemoration for the service and sacrifice of so many Australians in defence of our way of life, our values and our freedoms.

The Coalition will ensure that communities right across Australia have every opportunity to commemorate the deeds of local people in the service of their nation.

We have delivered this commitment.

Since coming to office, this Government has delivered the nation’s most significant national commemorative event in history.  The 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli was commemorated on 25 April 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, as well as locations around the world, including the place of the landing at Gallipoli in Turkey.

Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of Australians actively participated in the commemoration of this watershed moment in our nation’s history.  In the biggest cities and the smallest towns and farming communities, Australians gathered in extraordinary numbers to pay their respects to all those men and women who have served our nation in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations over more than a century of service.

Why commemorate a Centenary of Anzac and a century of service

Commemoration is a vitally important component of the support we provide returned men and women.

Providing financial and health care assistance through our world-leading repatriation system is a fundamental way of acknowledging service and sacrifice.  Similarly, commemorating veterans’ service is a nation’s obligation to those who have served.. As a society we owe it to veterans, and their families, to recognise their service and to provide validation and acknowledgment that their service and sacrifice was worthwhile and is respected.

The Centenary of Anzac is not just about commemorating those who fought in the First World War. The Anzac Centenary program is about a century of service: it commemorates and recognises the service of all those who have served in the Australian Defence Force over the last one hundred years.

It is a mistake to think that commemoration is somehow not important in validating the service of veterans.  It is a mistake to think that the Anzac Centenary program is not recognising the service of contemporary veterans either. As I have said previously, it is most important that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, such as the appalling way our Vietnam veterans were treated.  The Centenary of Anzac is about commemorating service in all theatres in which Australians have served in war, conflict or peacekeeping operations. 

The taxpayer support for the Centenary of Anzac, spread over more than 10 years, is consistent with the community’s desire to honour those who have served our nation.  Spending is measured – it is not excessive. Annually, government spending on commemoration represents less than 0.1 per cent of the entire $12 billion Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ budget for pensions, compensation and health care treatment for veterans and their families.

Within Australia, funding for the Centenary of Anzac has included up to $125,000 per Federal electorate for community-based commemoration through the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program. It funded the curtain raiser for the Anzac Centenary - the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event and included funding three quarters of the National Anzac Centre in Albany.

Domestically, other funded initiatives include:

  • the programme to Honour Australia’s War Dead;
  • the refurbishment of the Australian War Memorial’s First World War galleries;;
  • the ‘Anzac Portal’, an Online Educational and Community Portal;
  • the Arts and Culture Fund;
  • television programs on the ABC, such as Anzac Girls and The War that Changed Us;
  • the digitisation of selected First World War repatriation records; and
  • the development of the short films and audio excerpts from the digitised Australians at War Film Archive.

 Internationally, the Commonwealth has recently supported:

  • commemorative events in Gallipoli and France;
  • the protection and preservation of HMAS AE2;
  • the dedication of the new Australian War Memorial in New Zealand’s Pukeahu War Memorial Park in Wellington;
  • the development of the Australian Remembrance Trail, a tri-partite investment between the Australian Government and French and Belgian regional and local authorities.

The Commonwealth has announced funding to support major commemorative events at Fromelles, Pozieres, Polygon Wood, Be’er Sheva and Le Hamel to mark the centenary of battles fought in these locations.  Funding will also support a series of domestic commemorative events to mark these events, as well as other significant military anniversaries such as Victory in the Pacific, the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore and service on the Thai-Burma railway, and the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan and the Vietnam War.

Further, the Prime Minister has announced that the Australian Government will establish the Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France, to tell the story of Australia’s contribution to victory on the Western Front during the First World War.  I acknowledge the bipartisan support all of these initiatives have received.

Our support for the Centenary of Anzac is in not at the expense of our ongoing support for veterans and their families.  For example, DVA’s annual Budget of around $12 billion includes more than $6 billion in financial assistance to veterans, and more than $5 billion in health treatment costs.  Further, every year we spend at least $179 million on dedicated mental health treatment and support for veterans and their families.  This funding is demand driven and is not capped.

Since the last election, the Government has issued two Ministerial Statements about the Centenary of Anzac.  This statement, the third, looks back at events of Anzac Day 2015, but also forward to the remainder of the commemorative programme until the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day on 11 November 2018.

Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program

The Centenary of Anzac captured the interest and imagination of communities right across Australia.  Consistent with the Government’s pre-election commitment, community-based commemoration was at the heart of the Centenary of Anzac commemorations.

The Government’s Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program provided up to $125,000 per Federal electorate to support community-based commemoration.  Across 150 electorates almost 1,800 individual projects sought funding.  Applications from local groups have shown a high level of community engagement, innovation and educative value.

Examples of projects supported under the programme include:

  • an exhibition entitled, ‘In Memory’, honouring Aboriginal servicemen and women of the South Coast of New South Wales, which will be partially funded through a $10,000 grant provided to Shoalhaven City Council;
  • in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Meadow Heights, the Northern Turkish Family Association will conduct an Anzac Day commemoration, with $3,000 from the Australian Government;
  • at Deception Bay in Queensland we have provided more than $30,000 for a new war memorial commemorating the Centenary of Anzac;
  • in South Australia, a grant of almost $35,000 assisted in the re-enactment of the initial troop marches associated with the enlistment of troops in 1914;
  • the placement of photos of First World War soldiers in prominent places around Bunbury and nearby towns in Western Australia, through a $3,173 grant to the Bunbury RSL Sub-branch;
  • a grant worth $1,000 assisted the Liffey Old School Hall group to restore the Avenue of Honour which passes by the Hall in rural Tasmania;
  • the St Paul’s Primary School in Darwin has installed a flagpole and plaque to commemorate the Centenary of Anzac, courtesy of a grant of $2,333;
  • the Woden Valley RSL sub-branch received a grant worth $6,000 to publish a book titled ‘We Will Remember Them – Canberra’s War Memorials’; and
  • the ‘Centenary of ANZAC Jewish’ program at the Sydney Jewish Museum, which will be partially funded through four grants worth $47,760 awarded to the Museum.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those members of the community who joined local electorate committees, hosted by Members of the House of Representatives, to assist in the assessment of projects at a local level.  Your enthusiasm ensured the success of this programme.  I also wish to pay tribute to all colleagues in the other place for their work in making this programme the success it has been.

Travelling Exhibition

On 25 March this year, the Prime Minister, together with the CEOs of Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, launched the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, or SACE.

The SACE will be a national, travelling exhibition bringing the story of Australia and the First World War to 23 communities across Australia.  Beginning in Albury-Wodonga in September this year, the SACE will give communities the chance to gain a deeper understanding of what Australia, and Australians, did during the First World War.  This free exhibition will visit all states and the Northern Territory, concluding in Sydney in April 2017.

The partnership between the Australian Government, Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank, who are jointly funding this project, is greatly valued.  I want to thank the two organisations for their shared passion for this project.  I also want to welcome Brigadier Alison Creagh CSC (Ret’d) as the Executive Director of the project.  Brigadier Creagh brings a lifetime of experience in the Australian Army to assist in the management of this considerable project.

I also welcome the Hon Tim Fischer AC as Envoy.  Tim Fischer, a veteran of the Vietnam War, is a former deputy prime minister and ambassador.  Tim has enormous energy and interest in the First World War which will serve him well in this role.

The Australian War Memorial is responsible for the content of the exhibition.  The Memorial’s team supporting the SACE is led by Major-General Brian Dawson AO (Ret’d) and the Memorial’s team of curators have searched through their extensive collection to find a number of items which will tour, giving those Australians who cannot visit the Memorial in Canberra the chance to see part of our national collection.

The Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force have been passionate supporters of the SACE.  I welcome their agreement to provide financial support for the SACE, ensuring the project can reach as many locations around Australia as possible.

The SACE will be the biggest undertaking of its type since the Bicentenary travelling exhibition more than 25 years ago.  It will be a once in a lifetime experience and I encourage all Australians to make a special effort to attend the SACE when it visits a town or city close to them.

Australian War Memorial New Zealand

One hundred years on from the landing at Gallipoli, and 14 years after the dedication of New Zealand’s memorials on Anzac Parade in Canberra, the Prime Minister officially dedicated the Australian War Memorial in New Zealand’s new Pukeahu War Memorial Park in Wellington.

The Australian Memorial is the first international memorial to open in the new park in Wellington, and sits directly opposite New Zealand’s National Carillon and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.  Linked by ‘Anzac Square’, this special memorial underlines the deep and abiding connection between our two nations.

The new Memorial features 15 red stone columns, inset with black granite.  Seven of the columns contain the names of 21 theatres and operations where Australians and New Zealanders have served alongside each other.  Others feature Indigenous and Maori artwork.

The fifteenth, and central, pillar is emblazoned ‘Anzac’.  As the Prime Minister noted in his speech at the dedication:

On the central pillar of this memorial is inscribed one word: ‘Anzac’.

Charles Bean, Australia’s first and finest war correspondent, once wrote: “Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat”.

This Memorial, funded by the Howard government in the 2006-07 Budget, will stand for ever more as a testament to the shared bond between our two nations, a timeless reminder of our two nations’ shared values, service and sacrifice.

Anzac Day 2015

The commemoration of Anzac Day 2015 involved many hundreds of communities right across Australia. Australians young and old actively participated in their own way to mark this defining moment in our nation’s history.

Australia

Crowds at Dawn Services in Australia continued to increase.  The Australian War Memorial reported the largest crowd, at over 100,000.  Major regional dawn services, such as at Torquay in Victoria, Albany in Western Australia and Elephant Rock in Queensland, continued to see large crowds.  Marches in many cities saw their largest attendance in many years.  Community enthusiasm for Anzac Day is arguably at its highest level in a generation.

Gallipoli

A crowd of 10,043 attended the Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site in Turkey on Anzac Day and participated in a solemn and dignified commemorative ceremony at the place where, 100 years earlier, ANZAC forces had landed.

A total of 7,766 Australians attended the Dawn Service and the Australian service at Lone Pine and 1,935 New Zealanders attended the Dawn Service and the New Zealand service at Chunuk Bair.  All three services were attended by 342 official guests representing Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and twelve other nations directly involved in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to again place on the record our grateful thanks to the Government and people of Turkey, our most generous hosts.  It is a rare thing indeed for two nations, once enemies, to be such firm friends.  It is even rarer for the nation who was once our foe to welcome us so warmly to the place where the landing took place in 1915.  We indeed have a special relationship, one which the Australian Government hopes will continue long into the future.

I am pleased to report that all 8,120 Australian attendance passes for the dawn service were allocated.  The waitlist which had been established following the draw of the ballot in March 2014 operated as it was intended.  7,320 Australians were offered, through the ballot and the waitlist, a double attendance pass to attend the services.  3,755 people accepted a double pass and 214 accepted a single pass. There were also 396 single passes allocated to students and their chaperones across all states and territories.

The Government, with the grateful assistance of Qantas, invited the widows of 10 Australian First World War veterans to attend the commemorations.  These remarkable ladies, each accompanied by a carer, were active participants in the day’s commemorative activities.  At the Dawn Service, Mrs Niki Alldritt, whose husband Private Robert (Bob) Gregory Alldritt had served at Gallipoli, laid a wreath on behalf of all war widows.  At the Australian ceremony at Lone Pine, Mrs Ann Beasley, whose husband Lieutenant Frank Beasley also served at Gallipoli, laid a wreath on behalf of all war widows.  It was a moving moment.

I would like to place on the record my personal thanks to the dedicated staff in my Department, and across government, who have worked for many years to make this event possible. They are to be commended for their personal dedication, and the professionalism of their team, in making this event a solemn, dignified and safe commemoration.

Villers-Bretonneux

On the Western Front, a crowd of 6,100 attended the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.  This ceremony honours the 290,000 Australians who fought on the Western Front during the First World War; the Memorial records the names of more than 10,700 Australians who died in France and have no known grave.

The ceremony at Villers-Bretonneux, managed by the Australian Government with the grateful assistance of local French authorities, is becoming a major commemorative event for Australians visiting or living in Europe.  I expect that, as the focus of the Centenary commemorations shifts to the Western Front, that more and more Australians will wish to attend this ceremony.

Other international services

Her Majesty the Queen led Anzac Day commemorations in London.  The Australian Government acknowledges the decision of the Government of the United Kingdom to manage Anzac Day in London this year.  A crowd of more than 5,000 gathered for the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park Corner, which was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall and a thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey.

In Belgium, the Minister for Foreign Affairs led Anzac Day, the first Ministerial visit to Belgium for Anzac Day in many years.  Thousands of Australians are buried in Belgium; the cemetery at Toronto Avenue, the only all-Australian cemetery in Belgium, hosted a large crowd for the morning’s commemorative service.

Australians also gathered in large numbers at Hellfire Pass in Thailand; Isurava and Bomana in Papua New Guinea; Sandakan in Malaysia; in Vietnam and throughout New Zealand.  Many Australian missions across the world also marked Anzac Day.

Sir John Monash Centre

On 26 April the Prime Minister announced the winning design for the Sir John Monash Centre which is to be constructed at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

The Centre will tell the story of the extraordinary efforts of the 290,000 Australians who served with such distinction on the Western Front during the First World War.  More Australians died on the Western Front than on Gallipoli or in the Sinai combined.  It is appropriate that we tell our nation’s story of service and sacrifice not only to Australians who visit the former battlefields of northern France and Belgium, but to Europeans who are eager to better understand our engagement during the First World War.

The Centre will educate a new audience about Australia’s significant role on the Western Front and provide a lasting international legacy from the Centenary of Anzac. To achieve this, it will offer an evocative and educational experience for visitors of all nationalities.

Sir John Monash was the engineering genius and citizen soldier whose leadership broke the stalemate on the Western Front in 1918.  The Battle of Villers-Bretonneux was fought on ground around the Australian National Memorial and, from the Memorial, the site of Monash’s famous victory at Le Hamel can be seen.  It is right that our nation’s greatest leader from the First World War is honoured at this Centre.

The winning architects, Cox, have developed a concept which will see the Memorial’s original plan finally completed.  The design in no way detracts from the stately grandeur of the Memorial.  Further, as a technology-based museum, the Centre will complement the Franco-Australian Museum at the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux, as well as acting as a starting or finishing point for the Australian Remembrance Trail.  It will be completed by Anzac Day 2018, the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux which was won by Australian forces on 24/5 April 1918.

Western Front

More than 90 per cent of the Australian Imperial Force served on the Western Front during the First World War.  More than 75 per cent of the Australians who died in the First World War died on the Western Front.  It is critical that the service and sacrifice of the men who fought on the Western Front are as well understood as are the stories of Gallipoli.

Immediately following the Gallipoli commemorations I travelled to France to see first-hand early preparations for centenary commemorations there in 2016.  I also met with Belgian authorities to discuss their plans for commemoration in 2017, and particularly to discuss plans to commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele which, in October 1917, resulted in almost 7,000 Australians killed in action.

The Government has announced funding to support international commemorative events at Fromelles (19 July 2016), Pozieres (23 July 2016), Polygon Wood (26 September 2017), Le Hamel (4 July 2018) and the Australian National Memorial (Armistice Day, 11 November 2018).  This funding is over and above funding for annual Anzac Day services at the Australian National Memorial in France, and events in Belgium.

The funding will provide additional security, seating and logistical support to these events.  In some cases, such as Fromelles, commemorative services may be conducted across two or three locations, such is the small size of the cemeteries where events could take place.  These plans will continue to be worked on and announced in due course. 

There will be no ballot for Australians to attend commemorative events run by the Australian Government on the Western Front.

Be-er Sheva

The exploits of the Australian Light Horse in the deserts of Palestine and the Sinai from 1916 to 1918 deserve to be better known.  The Light Horse victory at Be’er Sheva, one of the best known cavalry charges in history, was a highlight of the epic campaign led by Australian and New Zealand mounted horsemen that advanced from the Suez Canal to Jerusalem and onto Damascus and which broke the Turkish Ottoman army.  Too few Australians know about these stories.

It is right that Australia commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Be’er Sheva.  The Government has provided funding to enable a commemorative ceremony to take place in Israel on 31 October 2017 to mark this event.

I want to acknowledge the significant interest amongst the Australian Jewish community to see this event appropriately acknowledged and commemorated.  Australia’s role in the liberation of the Sinai region from Ottoman rule ultimately led the creation of the state of Israel.  The Government will work with the Jewish community in Australia to ensure that events in both Israel and Australia appropriately commemorate the importance of this event.

Budget 2015-16

Funding in this year’s Budget will deliver the Government’s commitment to honour not just events on the Western Front and Be’er Sheva, but key anniversaries throughout the century of service.

Lone Pine

The Government will provide additional financial support for a commemorative event at Gallipoli on 6 August 2015 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Lone Pine and the August Offensive.

The Lone Pine ceremony will take place at 5pm on 6 August 2015 at the Lone Pine Cemetery.  The attack at Lone Pine began in the early evening of 6 August 1915 and it is appropriate that, 100 years on, we mark this event at this time.

The August Offensive, which this ceremony will commemorate, was the last great push by the Allies against Turkish forces.  Four days of intense fighting cost more than 2,000 Australians killed or wounded   This ceremony will particularly honour them.  The service also provides those Australians who were unable to attend Gallipoli on Anzac Day with the chance to visit and participate in a commemorative event.

This ceremony will not be balloted.  In coming weeks, my Department will provide advice via its website about arrangements for the ceremony.  Consistent with arrangements for Anzac Day, however, those wishing to attend are encouraged to book with a tour group.  Further, infrastructure at the site is limited – there is no running water, permanent toilet facilities or electricity.  It can also be extremely hot in Turkey in August.  Those wishing to attend are encouraged to consider these points in their preparation.

Century of service

The exploits of the original Anzacs were a major focus of Anzac Day 2015.  However, as we move through the remainder of the Centenary of Anzac, our focus broadens not just to the remainder of the First World War campaigns involving Australians, but also to significant events in subsequent conflicts involving Australians.

Last week, I accompanied seven veterans of the Second World War to Paris and London to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe commemorations.  The veterans of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force were warmly welcomed by their hosts, the French President and Her Majesty the Queen, and warmly acknowledged for their role in the liberation of Europe from the forces of Nazism.

Next month a mission of eight Australian Second World War veterans will travel to Borneo to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation OBOE.  And in September a mission to Papua New Guinea will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the unconditional surrender of the Japanese.

In August this year, the Australian Government will mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific with a series of commemorative events across the nation.  I am pleased to announce that, in cooperation with the Returned and Services League of Australia, commemorative events will take place across the country to honour the men and women who defended Australia during the Second World War.  Sadly, age is wearying our surviving Second World War veterans and this anniversary may provide the last significant opportunity for Australians to honour their service.  Further details about the commemorative programme will be released shortly.

I can also announce that funding has been allocated to support a series of domestic commemorative events to mark the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore and the completion of the Thai-Burma Railway.  These two events will be conducted at the Australian ex-Prisoner of War Memorial in Ballarat, and will be funded by the Australian Government.

Significant 65th anniversaries associated with the Korean War will be marked at the Australian War Memorial.  A veteran commemorative mission will return to the Republic of Korea in October 2016 to commemorate on United Nations Day the significant battles of the Korean War in which Australians were involved.

Vietnam

In 1962 Australian Army members as part of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) arrived in South Vietnam as part of Australia’s initial deployment to the ongoing conflict in Vietnam.  On 25 May 1965 Australian troops from 1RAR commenced their deployment to South Vietnam, marking the beginning of the employment of Australian combat units  in the Vietnam War.

Coming years mark significant 50th anniversaries for events which took place in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  In 2016 we will mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, the anniversary of which has come to be the day when this nation honours all those who served in the Vietnam War.  Other anniversaries for the Battle of Fire Support Base Coral and Fire Support Base Balmoral, and the Battle of Binh Bah, will also occur in 2018 and 2019 respectively.  These are significant anniversaries which deserve to be marked by a nation grateful for the service of those who fought in them.

Later this month I will announce the details of the Government’s plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, marking 50 years since Australian forces fought in the Vietnam War.  I view these commemorations as being as important as the commemoration of events during the First and Second World Wars.

Boer War and Peacekeeping Memorials

Consistent with the Government’s pre-election commitment, the Budget also extends Deductible Gift Recipient status to the Boer War Memorial Project and the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Project until 31 December 2017.  I encourage both of these organisations to use this extension to actively seek financial support for the establishment of their memorials.  This extension comes at a cost of $1.4 million to the Commonwealth, and is on top of $200,000 in seed funding provided to each organisation.

Official Histories

Official histories provide a comprehensive account of Australia’s involvement in conflict, peacekeeping and overseas humanitarian missions from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.

Starting with the First World War, the Australian War Memorial has been responsible for the compiling of official and authoritative histories of Australia’s involvement in wars and conflicts.  The first, authored by Charles Bean, tells the story of Australia’s involvement in the First World War.  Subsequent histories include the Second World War, Korean War and south-east Asian conflicts, including the Vietnam War.

The Howard government commissioned the authoring of an Official History of Peacekeeping Operations between 1946 and 2006.  After some delays, this work has been fast-tracked and will be completed by mid-2016.  This fifth series tells the story of more than  60 years of peacekeeping service by Australians throughout the world.

The sixth series in our national collection of Official Histories will focus on Australia’s involvement in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.  To be completed by mid-2022, the histories will give an authoritative account of Australia’s involvement in these conflicts.

Australian involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has been complex and long-running, and is of sufficient magnitude and complexity to warrant an official history.  As many as 40,000 Australian Defence Force personnel may have served in or supported these conflicts over 13 years of operations; 43 Australians were killed in action in these conflicts and many hundreds wounded.

In the case of East Timor, Australia’s involvement from 1999 to 2012 was instrumental in the country gaining independence and moving forwarded in stability and prosperity.  The International Force East Timor deployed from 1999 to 2000 was Australia’s largest peacekeeping mission to date, as well as the largest overseas military deployment since the Vietnam War.

The service of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have served in these operations deserves to the told.

The Australian community has been seized by the opportunity of the Centenary of Anzac to look back upon our nation’s history.  It has given people the opportunity to discover the service of a relative who did not return from the battle, or to speak to those who did about their own experiences.

In my first statement on the Centenary of Anzac, I said:

The Centenary of Anzac will be this nation’s most defining period of national commemoration.  Through this period, when we commemorate a Century of Service, Australians will be asked to consider three things:

Where we fought;

When we fought; and perhaps most importantly

Why we fought and the values we fought for.

The Centenary of Anzac is a period for all of us to reflect on past sacrifice, to understand that the nation we have today is the result of the sacrifice of 102,785 Australians killed in action, the hundreds of thousands wounded in action and the more than one million Australians who have worn the uniform of the Australian Defence Force.

The Coalition Government is absolutely committed to the commemoration of the Centenary of Anzac, from events in Rabaul and Gallipoli to the Western Front and the Middle East.

We are well on track to deliver this, as well as leaving a lifelong understanding amongst younger Australian, in particular, that Anzac means service and sacrifice.  It is future generations of Australians who will carry the torch of remembrance.

The Centenary of Anzac is far from over.  As the Prime Minister has said: “Gallipoli was a splendid failure; the Western Front was a terrible success and we should recall our victories as much as our defeats.”  Our focus will soon shift to the commemoration of these events.

We have a duty to honour the memory of the men and women who served our nation with such distinction and whose names are listed in the cloisters at the Australian War Memorial. 

A nation that fails to remember is a nation that fails itself.

 

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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