The new prime minister spoke about the Anzac tradition.
Yes, as all of us know, Gallipoli was in a sense, the cauldron that helped to shape a young nation. It wasn’t our first war – that was the Boer War. Nevertheless, it was the conflict, it was the battle, it was the campaign which seized the imagination of a young nation and helped to shape the way we think about ourselves as Australians.
We know a fair bit about the Gallipoli campaign. It’s a story that we tell again and again each year on ANZAC Day, but the coming few years mark not just the Centenary of ANZAC, they will mark the centenary of many First World War events and it is important while we acknowledge and honour the Centenary of ANZAC that we also acknowledge and remember the role that the First Australian Imperial Force played, not just at Gallipoli and in the Dardanelles Campaign, but elsewhere in that terrible conflict. There was the Australian Light Horse who effectively drove the Turks from Palestine and there was, of course, the mighty First AIF and work that was done over three years on the Western Front.
This was a time when Australia and Australians shaped the world. So, in thinking of the Centenary of ANZAC, we should think not just of Gallipoli itself, not just of the ideals of duty and service which motivated the young men who rallied to the colours in those days, but of our role in world history at that time.
And went on to announce revised plans for the Anzac centenary.
So, the incoming government, as its predecessor before it, is determined to ensure that we appropriately celebrate and appropriately honour the Centenary of ANZAC… We are increasing the amount that will be available for local Centenary of ANZAC commemorations and appropriate events to $125,000 per electorate. There will be a major travelling exhibition put together by the Australian War Memorial and in just over twelve months, there will be the opening and dedication of a memorial and commemorative centre at Albany in Western Australia, which was the last sight of our country that many of those troops had. These will happen.
He concluded with some tentative new proposals.
I guess the question is, can and should we do more? There are a couple of projects which I think are worth considering. First, a national war cemetery in Canberra – Australians’ Arlington, if you like – in which significant ex-soldiers could be interred.
Second, a major interpretative centre on the Western Front – something that does for Australia and for the Australians who visit the Western Front in such large numbers these days what the Canadians have done to commemorate their extraordinary work in World War I.
These are questions that I hope we might ponder and decide in the next few months so that we can ensure that we go through the four years, if you like, of the Centenary of ANZAC with something to remember and with a lasting legacy, so that this generation has appropriately honoured the sacrifice, the service, the achievements of our mighty forbears.
The Prime Minister made similar remarks about the Anzac tradition in a speech as Leader of the Opposition to mark the opening of the Afghanistan exhibition at the Australian War Memorial in August 2013. The speech is here, commencing at around mark 21.30.