House debates

Monday, 9 November 2020

Private Members' Business

Remembrance Day

10:37 am

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that Wednesday, 11 November 2020 marks Remembrance Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, when the guns fell silent during the First World War;

(2) recognises:

(a) that since the First World War, almost two million men and women have served in our defence forces; and

(b) the more than 102,000 defence personnel who have tragically died during, or as a result of, warlike service, non-warlike service and certain peacetime operations; and

(3) acknowledges the service and sacrifice of all those who served in our defence force and the families that supported them by encouraging all Australians to observe one minute's silence at 11 am on 11 November 2020.

On Wednesday morning, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, our nation will fall silent for a minute. It's not an eerie silence or an awkward silence, it's a reflective silence. This is a minute to stop and to think about and remember the brave men and women who fought and sacrificed so that we could enjoy our freedoms, which we hold dear to this day. It is a minute to think about the members of the Australian Imperial Force, who bravely put the needs of their nation ahead of their own self-interest and their own safety. On Wednesday, we think not only of those who fought in World War I but also, as this motion acknowledges, of those who have served in uniform ever since: the two million men and women who have served in our armed forces since World War I and the more than 102,000 defence personnel who during, or as a result of, warlike service, non-warlike service and peacetime operations have tragically died.

On Remembrance Day we pause and take time to remember. We enjoy the freedoms of democracy and life in the best country in the world to live in. It is incumbent on us to not forget what it took to defend those freedoms and the way of life we are fortunate enough to have, because, if we forget, we run into the danger of becoming complacent and forgetting just how valuable what we have is. We need to ensure we do everything we can to defend it so that these lives that were lost will never have been lost in vain.

Fortunately, we have a strong history of marking Remembrance Day since the first Remembrance Day in 1919. I recently came across an article from The Townsville Daily Bulletin, from Wednesday 12 November 1941, which reported on the 23rd anniversary of the signing of Armistice and how quiet the city became at 11 am. The article reads: 'On the hour striking, there was a hush. So general and thorough was the silence that those on the balcony of town hall could hear across from McKinnon's, from the machine in that building. The broadcast of the chiming of the Brisbane Town Hall, and also the bugler in the city, sounding the Last Post. In fact, said the town clerk, when reviewing the ceremony later, the silence was so thorough and complete that you could have heard a pin drop in Flinders Street.'

The tradition continues at my home town of Townsville, Australia's largest garrison city. Remembrance Day is extremely special. Each year a large crowd gathers at Anzac Park down on The Strand for the ceremony supported by members of the 3rd Brigade and many local veteran groups and organisations. At 11 am the city falls silent as we observe a minute's silence. While I'd really like to be present at Anzac Park on Wednesday, I am very glad to be able to attend the national Remembrance Day ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

So who will I be remembering on this Remembrance Day? In my maiden speech in this place, I mentioned a warrior—a brother, a mate—killed in action on 18 July 2009 in Afghanistan. So on Remembrance Day I will be remembering my mate, Ben Ranaudo, a brave man who served his nation with pride. And I was proud to serve beside him. Of course, there's not a day that goes by that I don't remember him. On this Remembrance Day, joining my other mates, and the whole nation, there's an extra sense of not only sadness but also pride. But, tragically, there are many others who I'll also be remembering, and they may not have died in war but they have succumbed to their war within. On Wednesday, I'll be remembering Jesse Bird, Brad Carr, Paul McKay, Ben Brown, Peter Atkins, Dylan Clark, Tristan Hardie, Daniel Halpin, Steven Fazel, Shaun Jenkins, Geoffrey Price and Lewis Shelley. They too proudly served their nation and should be honoured for their service and their sacrifice.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the tragic loss of life, how we can do better to prevent this happening and the unacceptable numbers of our veterans who have succumbed to their war within. We are taking action, but there is a long road ahead. Wednesday is the time for our nation to unite, pause, remember and reflect. I encourage everyone around the nation this year to stop for a minute's silence this Remembrance Day. Lest we forget.


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