Thursday, 25 February 2021
Victoria: Anzac Day
For the last three decades, with two exceptions, I, like many other members in this place, have attended local Anzac Day services on 25 April. Those two exceptions were when I was representing the government in 2015, the centenary of 1915, on the Western Front and, of course, last year, when services were restricted and indeed not held.
One of those places which I attend is Templestowe. On the war memorial monument at Templestowe, in the stone, are etched the names of 42 young Australians who went to the First World War. They were farmers, orchardists, labourers and storekeepers—42 young men from a population of what was then a rural area of probably no more than 500 or 600 people in total. Some of those names are still familiar to people in Menzies, because they're the names of the great orchardists of a century ago—names like Ouuman, Chivers and Williamson. Of those 42, 13 never returned. They lie buried in the gullies of Gallipoli or in Flanders fields or in some unknown places, lost forever to kith and kin. That, of course, was said to be the war to end all wars, yet two decades later another great war broke out in which many more young Australians from that district, like from all over Australia and New Zealand, joined in that great battle to fight another war.
I mention these things in the context of the upcoming Anzac Day, because there are suggestions that this Anzac Day there should be restrictions and, indeed, that the march, traditionally held from the Melbourne CBD to the Shrine of Remembrance on St Kilda Road, should be abandoned. I urge the Victorian government and the RSL and all others involved to hold that march and to hold these celebrations, these commemorations of those who gave their lives and made the sacrifices. Are we saying to young Australians and their families that the sacrifices of those who fought and were killed in the muddy shelled trenches of the Western Front, those who fought in the arduous Owen Stanley Rangers and those who suffered in the searing desserts of North Africa or in the infected swamps of Asia, in the skies over Britain or the seas of the Coral Sea or elsewhere, that those men and, indeed, women, including the nurses that were executed off Singapore during the Second World War, are no longer enough to us that we can't go out on Anzac Day and commemorate that service? I believe that those people would want it. I believe their families would want it. As I said, I urge the authorities in Victoria to enable Anzac Day celebrations to go ahead, including the march.