Ronaldson, Michael: Ministerial statement Anzac centenary 2015

Ronaldson, Senator Michael

Ministerial statement on the centenary of Anzac and Anzac Day 2015‘, Minister’s Web Site, 13 May 2015

Statement tabled in the Senate, along with ministerial remarks. This is the third such statement and it reports on the range of activities that have taken place and are planned. The minister concludes thus:

In my first statement on the Centenary of Anzac, I said:

The Centenary of Anzac will be this nation’s most defining period of national commemoration. Through this period, when we commemorate a Century of Service, Australians will be asked to consider three things:

Where we fought;

When we fought; and perhaps most importantly

Why we fought and the values we fought for.

The Centenary of Anzac is a period for all of us to reflect on past sacrifice, to understand that the nation we have today is the result of the sacrifice of 102,785 Australians killed in action, the hundreds of thousands wounded in action and the more than one million Australians who have worn the uniform of the Australian Defence Force.

The Coalition Government is absolutely committed to the commemoration of the Centenary of Anzac, from events in Rabaul and Gallipoli to the Western Front and the Middle East.

We are well on track to deliver this, as well as leaving a lifelong understanding amongst younger Australian, in particular, that Anzac means service and sacrifice. It is future generations of Australians who will carry the torch of remembrance.

The Centenary of Anzac is far from over. As the Prime Minister has said: “Gallipoli was a splendid failure; the Western Front was a terrible success and we should recall our victories as much as our defeats.” Our focus will soon shift to the commemoration of these events.

We have a duty to honour the memory of the men and women who served our nation with such distinction and whose names are listed in the cloisters at the Australian War Memorial.

A nation that fails to remember is a nation that fails itself.

Honest History looks forward particularly to hearing more about the words in bold; it hopes that:

  • the first set of bolded words does not mean that the reasons Australia has fought past wars are to be considered only in terms of values, such as the hackneyed ‘He Died for Freedom and Honour’ – geopolitical reasons deserve more consideration than they are typically given by official Australian commemoration;
  • the second set of bolded words does not claim that the nation we have today is the result only of military endeavours – the Honest History website explores many other important strands of Australian history that have played a part; and
  • that the minister in future speeches will expand upon the third set of bolded words; for example, does the minister envisage that younger Australians will be called upon to ‘sacrifice’ in the future and what does he envisage to be the nature of that sacrifice? Does carrying the torch of remembrance imply a commitment to blood sacrifice? We recall the Minister’s speech last year to Sydney Legacy, where he said:

And when they [younger Australians] hop on a school bus, or they walk home, or they go shopping, or they go out at night with relative freedom – that they realise in many instances that freedom has been paid for in blood. And they must understand that.

If they understand that, what does the minister expect them to do next?

David Stephens

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