House debates

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Constituency Statements

Armistice Centenary

10:15 am

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As this will be my last opportunity to speak before Remembrance Day next month, I would like to pay tribute to the many community groups across my electorate of Farrer who go to so much effort to ensure this day is a special one in the calendar. From Wentworth to Walla Walla, Greater Hume to Griffith, Remembrance Day is attentively marked to ensure this and future generations remember the effort and sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms that each of us experiences today.

Of course, the red poppy has become synonymous with this day. During the First World War, red poppies were amongst the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of Northern France and Belgium. The poppies soon became widely accepted throughout the Allied nations as the flower of remembrance to be borne on Armistice Day. The Australian returned soldiers and sailors league first sold poppies for Armistice Day in 1921, and that continues today to raise funds for its vital welfare work. While this coming 11th of the 11th will be observed as solemnly as ever, the commemoration in 2018 strikes importantly on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. In fact, my father was born in 1918. He is turning 100 next year. His two older brothers went to war and did not return.

The call has gone out to knitters from around Australia to help create 60,000 poppies to carpet part of the grounds at the Australian War Memorial for those commemorations. Each poppy knitted will represent an Australian life lost in World War I, with the Great War remaining the costliest conflict to Australia in terms of deaths. One of my local CWAs at Jindera is taking on the challenge. The ladies at Jindera, led by my dear friend Mrs Helen Glachan, are already experienced in this field. Three years ago they knitted 2,000 poppies to adorn the local service at the start of the Anzac Centenary. Seven CWA members at Jindera want to make as much of a contribution as possible to that very important and symbolic scene that we will witness here next year in Canberra. With each poppy taking about an hour to assemble, this is no small effort, and I thank them in advance for their special efforts to remember the fallen.

Another way that communities can participate is through the Australian government's Armistice Centenary Grants Program. Applications for grants will open next month to support projects or activities in our region to commemorate the end of the war. To acknowledge this historic day, $7.5 million has been allocated through the Armistice Centenary Grants Program, allowing total funding of about $50,000 to each of Australia's federal electorates. One-off grants from $3,000 are available, and I encourage anyone in Farrer who wants to contribute to this significant moment in our nation's history to submit an expression of interest through my office.