Senate debates

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Ministerial Statements

Anzac Centenary

9:46 am

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.

If there is anything in the Australian landscape that is above politics, it is the Centenary of Anzac. I certainly appreciate Senator Ronaldson's statement and the very cooperative way he has commenced discussions on this matter. I can assure him that that will be reciprocated by the opposition. I also acknowledge the work of the former minister, Warren Snowdon, who laid much of the groundwork for this exciting event in Australia's history.

The Centenary of Anzac is above political pointscoring. That is what the public expects, and that is correct. Rather, the Centenary of Anzac is truly a great opportunity to honour the Anzac spirit and the sacrifice and bravery of those who have served over the past century. This is an opportunity to remember and give thanks for the 416,000 Australian volunteers in World War I, including the 61,522 Australians killed in its bloody battles. We will honour in a special way the 5,482 Australians who were killed in action at Gallipoli and the 2,677 who subsequently died from wounds or disease. Equally, we will remember the more than 100,000 Australian service men and women who never came home from conflicts over the past 100 years. And we will not forget the one million Australians who have served—and continue to serve—in our defence forces.

I welcome today's announcement that registration for the ballot to determine attendance at the Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli will officially begin this Saturday at 12.01 am. It is accepted on both sides of parliament that the Anzac commemorative site on the Gallipoli Peninsula can safely hold up to 10,500 people and that this will comprise 8,000 Australians, 2,000 New Zealanders and approximately 500 official representatives of all countries that served in the Gallipoli campaign. The ballot process represents a fair and transparent approach. As Senator Ronaldson made clear in his statement, there is no rush to enter the online ballot. Australians have until 31 January next year to register for tickets and, regardless of when they register, success is down to the luck of the draw. Widows of World War I veterans are rightly offered special invitations to attend Anzac Day at Gallipoli and do not need to enter the ballot.

In the lead-up to these commemorations, it is particularly important to remember the hospitality and generosity of the Turkish government. Every year they allow thousands of Australians to make the pilgrimage to the hallowed beaches of Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. It is wonderful that more and more young Australians join the annual pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Anzac legend. Braving the cold as well as the harsh landscape with few facilities, they connect with the Anzacs and the horrors they endured.

Locally across the cities and country towns of Australia there will be Anzac centenary project commemorations which will be funded by the government's Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program. These are available through every federal electorate in Australia, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs is administering these grants. I encourage more community organisations to contact their local federal MP for details about these grants. I encourage all Australians to become involved in centenary commemorations, because this Centenary of Anzac is for and about the Australian people and the Australian way of life. It is about ordinary Australians remembering these brave men and women who left their cities and towns to join theatres of war in unfamiliar and unkind lands. As Paul Keating said in his famous 1993 Remembrance Day address, the lesson to come from the horror of war was a lesson about ordinary people:

And the lesson was that they were not ordinary.

On all sides they were the heroes of that war; not the generals and the politicians but the soldiers and sailors and nurses—those who taught us to endure hardship, to show courage, to be bold as well as resilient, to believe in ourselves, to stick together.


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