House debates

Monday, 26 November 2018

Private Members' Business

Remembrance Day

6:32 pm

Photo of Susan LambSusan Lamb (Longman, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to commemorate Remembrance Day, which fell on the 11th day of this, the 11th, month. Every year, people all around Australia stop to reflect on the great sacrifice that was made by those who served our nation in the First World War. This year marks the Centenary of Armistice—100 years from when the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Our country, of course, was still in its infancy then. From a population of less than five million, more than 400,000 Australians enlisted to serve. With just over one in 12 Australians courageously enlisting to serve, it comes as no surprise that they hailed from all over—many of them from the area which I now represent.

The bravery of these Australians will not be forgotten—Australians like Arthur Henley, who was living in Burpengary when he enlisted on 9 October 1915. He enlisted as a private and embarked from Sydney on board the HMATSS Hawkes Bay on 20 April 1916. Arthur's fine service will not be forgotten. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for the most conspicuous gallantry and determination, which he displayed at Villeret in 1918. This labourer from regional Queensland twice led his section at enemy strong points which were holding up the advance. He worked his gun to a flank and brought fire to bear on the strong point. Later he led a charge against an enemy machine gun, firing his gun from the hip. Arthur succeeded in capturing it and, with it, seven prisoners. Australia was very lucky to see him return home on 5 September 1919. But as we all know, not everyone was so lucky. Of the 400,000 Australians who served, more than 150,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. Tragically, 60,000 gave their lives to defend this great nation of ours. This, of course, took a truly significant toll on the individuals, families and communities that survived them.

In seeking to better understand my region's contribution to the First World War, I came across an article that appeared in the newspaper The Queenslander on 4 August 1917. It reads:

Charles Munro, of Burpengary, Queensland—

that's how it begins—

has received a cablegram from the commandment, 13th Flying Squadron, advising that his son, Lieutenant J.D. Munro, was killed in England in an aeroplane accident on the 17th instant.

The article continues to detail Lieutenant Munro's interesting and impressive record. He was one of the earliest volunteers to leave the state in 1914. He was at the nation-defining landing of Gallipoli. He served for several months on that campaign. He found love while enlisted, marrying a nurse who helped restore him to health following a bout of illness. I know the tragedy that was his death will never be forgotten.

I also came across an article from The Brisbane Courier that ran on 30 August 1918, and it read:

News has been received by Mr and Mrs J.C. Kellior, Mt Comrie, Upper Caboolture, that their second son, Private T.H. Kellior, died of wounds on August 9 in France. This is their second son to make the supreme sacrifice.

As a parent, I can feel myself connecting with these very personal stories. We so often retell the courageous stories of bravery and valour that personal stories can become lost. We often forget that, while these brave men and women served overseas, they left behind their parents, their loved ones and their families. We forget that, for regular Australian parents like those of Lieutenant Munro or Private Kellior, while their children were serving overseas, life was just meant to go on. I know the pride they would have felt, but I also know how devastating it must have been to read the cablegrams that related such tragic news for their families.

We will not forget them. We will not forget those who served and we'll not forget the sacrifices that they made. A hundred years have passed since the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Even 100 years from today, our nation is still in their debt. We will remember them. Lest we forget.

6:37 pm

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Communities around Australia gathered to attend services that marked the centenary of the armistice that finally ended the fighting of the First World War on Sunday, 11 November. It was a conflict which changed our nation forever. From a population of under five million, 420,000 Australians enlisted, and over 61,000 paid the ultimate sacrifice. Over one single 24-hour period at Fromelles, there were over 5,500 Australian casualties. Mothers and fathers lost sons, wives lost husbands and children lost fathers. When the town bells rang out a century ago, there was no doubt joy and relief that the war was over, but there was also immense sorrow and grief. The men and women who served and sacrificed for Australia asked of future generations only one thing: that we remember them.

At Remembrance Day services this year, communities across the electorate of Calare came out in large numbers to fulfil that sacred commitment. At Kandos, 150 community members gathered at the memorial wall to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, which was organised by members of the RSL, including President John Taylor, Vice-president Glen Evans and the secretary and treasurer, Ken Devitt, along with World War II veterans Lance Ford and Val Wage.

A special feature of this year's service was the 2,501 knitted and crocheted poppies and homemade Anzac biscuits made by local women in the community, including Jan Baillie, Pauline Brooks, Marilyn Comer, Joyce Doble, Regina Dinten, Julie Denton, Lynette Edwards, Gwen English, Yukiko Evans, Rose Evans, Elizabeth Gardiner, Joan George, Catherine Gleeson, Pat Glover, Chris Hassell, Val Herbert, Elaine Hegarty, Carol Hayward, Denise Jamieson, Marsha James, Judy James, Sharyn Joyce, Jean Lloyd, Leonie McKenna, Sandra McIntosh, Carol Morrissey, Jo Maher, Joy Murray, Barbara Murray, Barbara Martin, Wendy Rodda, Ellen Riley, Joan Schultz, Mary Smith, Lyn Taylor, Mona Timson, Doreen Wurth, Bev Williams and Marjorie Windle. The poppies, which were made into banners and hung around the community hall, have since been donated to the Kandos and Rylstone museums.

In addition to the poppies, 100 wire crosses were installed, representing local servicemen. These crosses were available for purchase, with funds raised going to Soldier On. In Wellington, there were 200 in attendance, or even more, at a service that featured performances by the Wellington Town Band and local a cappella group Stray Notes, led by Ross Godfrey. I would like to make mention of the hardworking Wellington RSL sub-branch members, including President Roy Holmes, Secretary Peter Jarrett, Vice-President Beryl Althofer, Welfare Officer Rod Althofer, Treasurer Peter Duffy, and also committee members Peter Dowell, Aaron Edwards, Mark Inwood, Leslie Langbein, Chris Wykes, Ray Klein and Gary Francis.

In Gulgong, commemorations were held at Anzac Park, which features a new memorial, which the members have recently installed. Branch Secretary John Fielding made a number of trips to the battlefield in France and drew up the plans for the new memorial from the photos he took. The memorial is a scale replica of the memorial in France where the Armistice was signed. The new memorial is located on the eastern side of the rotunda and will be a focal point for future Remembrance Day commemorations. The Gulgong RSL branch received a $3,000 Armistice Centenary Grant to help with the new memorial. I note the members of the Gulgong RSL sub-branch all worked very hard for that service and for the unveiling of the memorial. I would like to mention President David Henderson, Treasurer Craig Holden and Senior Vice-President Peter Leotta. I also have to make mention of the late junior vice-president, and Gulgong's last World War II veteran, Les Monks. I attended the funeral of Les Monks in Gulgong last week. He will be greatly missed.

There was also a very strong turnout at Oberon's commemorations. Oberon RSL sub-branch President Bill Wilcox recited The Ode. He was ably supported in organising the commemorations by other RSL sub-branch members, including Secretary Neville Stapleton, Treasurer Don Stephens and Trustee Elaine Boxer. Following the service, local Oberon High School student Peta McGrath gave a presentation on her 12-day trip to the Western Front battlefields. I would like to pay tribute to all RSL members and community groups that organised services for Remembrance Day this year and also thank all community members who attended a service and fulfilled that sacred commitment to remember.

6:42 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

This Remembrance Day we commemorated the Centenary of Armistice Day, a day when we honour the spirit of our service personnel. We are reminded of their sacrifice, a sacrifice made on our behalf and one deserving of our nation's respect and gratitude. I'm very grateful to my team, who represented our office right across the electorate. I attended a service in Langhorne Creek, down the very bottom of my electorate. Prior to attending the service I drove a 1954 Massey Ferguson, raising money for Legacy, from Milang to Langhorne Creek, and that was quite a feat.

This year marked 25 years since the Unknown Soldier was laid to rest at the Australian War Memorial, on 11 November 1993. Those of you who have visited the memorial will have been struck by the words etched into the foot of the Unknown Soldier's tomb:

He is all of them. And he is one of us.

Our veterans are not confined to the pages of well-worn textbooks or some romantic notion captured on the silver screen. Our veterans are our grandparents, our parents, our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our wives. They are our past, our present and indeed our future.

If we look to the past, the statistics can be difficult to comprehend. For example, in the First World War alone, over 150,000 service personnel were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner, with 60,000 never to return home to their families. It's not until we speak to our older Australians that we actually get a sense of the grief and loss that rippled through our communities after every conflict. As the memories of our older Australians fade, the importance of Remembrance Day, I believe, grows. The Australian War Memorial plays a vital role in ensuring that our young Australians understand the meaning of Remembrance Day and that we as a nation continue to honour and respect the sacrifices made by young men and women 100 years ago and over the last 100 years. While not every family can afford to make the long trip to Canberra, the virtual war memorial is a South Australian RSL initiative that seeks to do just that. It brings to life the history of service personnel using technology to share their stories with the next generation.

We know that the challenges that face many of our service men and women often follow them home from deployment and into civilian life. South Australia, through Veterans SA, was a key driver in recognising transition from the military as a priority issue for ADF personnel and their families. Successful transition is a significant, mitigating factor in avoiding challenging post-service issues such as homelessness, incarceration, broken families, mental health and wellbeing issues. Looking after our veterans must be a priority. And, with what we now know about mental health and post-traumatic stress, we must do better. The Jamie Larcombe Centre in Adelaide adopts a model of care that offers inpatient and outpatient care and programs, research, and a partnership hub that helps veterans and their families to connect with ex-service organisations and community groups to provide support to assist recovery from mental illness.

In excess of 70,000 ADF personnel have been deployed on global operations since our involvement in Timor-Leste in 1999. We must position ourselves to be able to address the needs of these service personnel as they transition from the ADF and look to new careers as they move into retirement. We can't allow them to fall into a chasm. We need to ensure that we treat our veterans properly and provide them with a full complement of services for a successful transition. I commend the Minister for Veterans' Affairs on the work he has done so far, as outlined in last month's veterans' statement, but we must ensure that we learn from the mistakes of the past and that we treat our veterans and their families with the respect they so richly deserve. It was a great honour to attend the service in Langhorne Creek. It was a very small but very meaningful service, and I would like to thank all of the RSLs right across my community for putting on poignant and moving Remembrance Day services right across the Mayo electorate.

6:47 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Every year on 11 November, we rightly commemorate the armistice which ended the First World War. However, as the centenary commemoration of that day, this 11 November was particularly special. In Maleny in my electorate of Fisher, our community created a unique and vibrant commemoration to reflect the importance of the day. On 30 November 1918, just two weeks after the end of the Great War, Maleny's families, still awaiting the return of their servicemen from overseas, organised a parade to celebrate the Armistice. Looking at the photographs shared by the RSL, you can tell that the Maleny victory parade was undoubtedly a colourful affair. It brought together publicans, police constables, servicemen and schoolchildren and united ordinary men and women from every part of our community. The vision of our own Chris Brooker and the Maleny RSL in 2018 was to re-create that peace march on this Armistice Day and honour the memory not only of those who served but of the families left behind.

Eighty students and their teachers from Maleny and Conondale schools took part in vintage dress, while Maleny Men's Shed and TS Centaur re-created the naval-themed float commemorating the Sydney. Members of the Maleny hospital auxiliary dressed in vintage Australian Red Cross nurses' costumes in remembrance of the vital role that many women played during the war. Just as in the first parade, the Indian-Australian community came out to display the Indian national flag in remembrance of the contribution of our Commonwealth allies, as did our Canadian expats as well. Community groups from every part of Maleny took part, including the Maleny Singers, the Maleny Players, the Maleny Equestrian Group, the Maleny Bushrangers and the Blackall Range Horseless Carriage Club, as did our light horse brigade. The RSL meticulously followed the run sheet of the original parade. They even ensured that members of some of the same families were represented, like Bill Hankinson, who followed in his father's footsteps, riding in the parade as John Bull.

Around 1,000 people attended and a great day was had by all. Hundreds lined the route to see the many horse-drawn carts and carriages, period costumes, vintage cars and pushbikes, the flags, the cattle and more. I was proud to take part in my own period costume to play a role in recreating our community's history and follow in the footsteps of the Sunshine Coast's pioneers. I want to thank all of those who dressed up, polished their vintage cars and got their horses and carts out of the barns. You all made a splendid sight and a moving commemoration of the events of 1918. Most of all, I want to thank Chris Brooker for organising such a unique and evocative Armistice Day event. You did our community proud, Chris, and we are all very rightly proud of your efforts.

In recent weeks, I was also privileged to dedicate three new memorials to the Centenary of the First World War Armistice, supported by this government's Armistice Centenary Grants Program. I visited TS Onslow Royal Australian Navy Cadets unit in Golden Beach to dedicate a commemorative mural wall. In Maleny, I visited another of our active and dedicated Australian Navy Cadets units at TS Centaur to dedicate their new centenary commemoration flagpole. This flagpole will from now on allow the cadets to fly the Australian national flag during their weekly colours ceremony. Finally, on Armistice Day itself, I visited 223 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets, where I had the opportunity before the main ceremony got underway to speak to the young cadets and to dedicate a new commemoration stone.

In total, across Fisher, five organisations took advantage of the Armistice Centenary Grants Program. These included, in addition to those I've mentioned, the Caloundra RSL Sub Branch, who extended and refurbished their wonderful memorial garden, and the Mooloolaba State School, who constructed a new community memorial garden. I'm grateful to the organisations concerned for their commitment to the important task of remembrance and to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs for his support in helping these new memorials across my community to become a reality. Lest we forget.

Debate adjourned.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 18 : 52