House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Questions without Notice

Centenary of Anzac

3:11 pm

Photo of Stuart RobertStuart Robert (Fadden, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC. Will the minister update the House on the establishment of that great project, the Sir John Monash Centre in France, and other activities that the government is undertaking to recognise the sacrifice of Australian service men and women?

Photo of Darren ChesterDarren Chester (Gippsland, National Party, Minister for Veterans' Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Fadden for his question and in particular I thank the member for Fadden for his service to the Australian Army for the best part of 12 years. I recall that in this place several years ago now the former member for Bradfield and the now the Australian War Memorial director, Brendon Nelson, once said something along the lines of: 'There's no greater service that a person can give to this nation than to put on the uniform of the Australian Navy, Army or Air Force and be prepared to place themselves in harm's way to help those who can't help themselves.' It reflected on the unique nature of their service to our country. While this chamber can often be divided on other issues, this is one topic where I think we are very much united, particularly as 2018 marks the culmination of the centenary Anzac commemorations. We honour and respect those brave service men and women who served our nation and fought for our country with our allies 100 years ago.

Anzac Day does provide an opportunity for all Australians to reflect upon the service and sacrifice of both past and current service men and women and particularly those 102,000 souls who lost their lives in the service to our nation. It also marks the anniversary of the first major military action by Australian and New Zealand forces during the World War I, and there is a significant commemorative program currently under way which reflects the commitment from the government to acknowledge and commemorate the service and the sacrifice of all of those men and women, whether it be in peacekeeping missions, wars or conflicts for more than 100 years.

The member for Fadden asked me about the Sir John Monash Centre, which is the most significant infrastructure project of the Australian government's Anzac Centenary program and provides a lasting international legacy for future generations. The official opening of that centre will be held on Anzac Day eve at Villers-Bretonneux in France this year. This is a state-of-the-art centre. It is designed to give visitors a unique understanding of the conditions endured by the Australian servicemen on the Western Front during the First World War.

Monash himself was quite an extraordinary Australian. Upon his return to Australia, he was required to form the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, which led to the development of the Latrobe Valley power stations and drove the economic development of the state for decades into the future. Just as we strive today to make sure our modern-day veterans can transition into meaningful careers once they leave the Defence Force, with programs like the Prime Minister's veterans initiative and the awards ceremony which is on tonight, Sir John Monash certainly had an amazing career after he left the Army.

When it comes to Anzac Day commemorations, I simply encourage all members in this place, as I am sure they will, to engage with veterans in their own communities and to attend their local Anzac Day services across the nation. Each of these services will include, no doubt, the immortal fourth stanza of the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

Lest we forget.

3:16 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

On indulgence: the opposition wishes to associate itself with the remarks of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and notes that the Prime Minister will be attending the commemoration. I thank him for his invitation to the opposition to join him. Perhaps this House can consider at some point in the future whether or not it is now time for Sir John Monash, arguably Australia's greatest general, to receive recognition as field marshal.

Photo of Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull (Wentworth, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.