Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Questions without Notice
Centenary of Anzac
My question is to the very diligent Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Senator Ronaldson. Can the minister explain to the Senate how the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience travelling exhibition will form part of the governments agenda for the Centenary of Anzac?
It is with a degree of sadness that I say that this is probably Senator Mason's last question, and we will miss him very much. He has been a very significant contributor to this place. Today at the Australian War Memorial the Prime Minister launched the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, which will be a travelling exhibition going to 23 sites throughout Australia over the Centenary of Anzac period. The Prime Minister was joined by Mr Ian Narev from the Commonwealth Bank and Mr David Thodey and incoming CEO Andy Penn from Telstra, who are the two principal financial supporters of the exhibition. On behalf of the government I want to thank those two companies most sincerely for their support. This is a real partnership between the corporate sector, the Australian War Memorial and the Australian government.
This will be the flagship community event of the Centenary of Anzac. From September this year Australians right throughout the nation will have the opportunity to experience the historical perspective of the First World War as well as gain an understanding of those theatres of war that we have been engaged with since that time. We are deeply committed to ensuring that all Australians, and particularly young Australians, understand the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served this nation over the last 100 years. We should always remind ourselves of the 102,000 names in the Australian War Memorial of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. This exhibition will provide all Australians, particularly I am very pleased to say those in regional Australia, with a first hand experience of the military artefacts and interpretive materials that will be in the exhibition. I am very pleased that former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer has been appointed envoy of the exhibition. (Time expired)
I again thank Senator Mason for his question. Just to confirm, as I ran out of time: Tim Fischer will be the envoy for this exhibition which I am sure, being a Vietnam veteran, is a further indication of the centenary of the service and sacrifice.
This exhibition will go to 23 locations across Australia—to the states and the Northern Territory. The exhibition will open in Albury-Wodonga. It will then go to Tasmania and conclude in Sydney around Anzac Day in 2017. What this will do is ensure that not only does this nation commemorate events—it is some 30-odd days now—like the landing at Gallipoli but, equally importantly, the Western Front and the Sinai where this nation lost so many of its finest over that four-year period. It will be an opportunity to reflect on a centenary of service and sacrifice.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Finally, will the minister advise the Senate how the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience fits into the government's program of commemoration for the Centenary of Anzac?
I again thank Senator Mason for his question. As I said, this will be the flagship commemorative event but it comes on top of the Anzac Centenary Local Community Grants Program—which I acknowledge was started under the former government. In the last budget we topped it up, and 150 members in the other place are providing in their own communities local projects which will enable those communities to commemorate as well.
For those who are from country areas, they will fully understand, as I do, the level of sacrifice of, predominantly, men who came from the smallest towns around this nation and went to Albany and left our shores.
Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank have been absolutely pivotal in the success of the running of this program. The exhibition will tell this nation's story. It must be told and it needs to be told for future generations as well as those of us who are here today.