The Prime Minister gave a speech to Legacy. Much of the publicity was about his proposal for an Arlington-style national cemetery in Canberra ‘in which significant ex-soldiers could be interred’. What this might mean was left for later consideration, particularly of the word ‘significant’ – the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial has no distinctions of rank or mentions of bravery awards – although versions of the idea have been around for decades.
More interesting, if predictable, were the PM’s remarks about Anzac and its centenary.
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… 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.
The PM went on to announce an increase in the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program to $125 000 per electorate (up from $100 000) or a total of $22.5 million for this program (up from $18 million) and $144.5 million overall for centenary commemoration (was $140 million). Meanwhile, donations to Soldier On can be made at the link above – or for that matter, to Legacy here. One wonders what these organisations could do with $22.5 million.