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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 3616

Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (16:19): I am very pleased to be able to speak this afternoon to reflect on matters in the lead-up to Anzac Day next month. This is a day when we reflect on the commitment and the sacrifices made by ordinary Australians in a variety of conflicts. Most importantly for me on this occasion speaking to the House, I would like to reflect on those who enlisted in Australia's force in the First World War and particularly on some of the experiences of those from my own electorate of La Trobe, where nearly 300 volunteered. My electorate remains on the urban-rural borders of Melbourne. At that time, a commitment of 300 people from a certainly more sparsely populated region was a significant commitment. They ranged from the northern hills of my electorate through to Ferntree Gully and down to the south of electorate, in Berwick and Narre Warren and to suburbs such as Clyde. Men enlisted to form part of the Australian Imperial Force at that time. Seventy-nine men born in Berwick enlisted, with a further nine enlisting living in Berwick itself; and 77 men born in Ferntree Gully enlisted, with a further five who were living in Ferntree Gully at the time of enlistment signing up. Some 26 came from Narre Warren, some 20 from Beaconsfield and 25 from Clyde at the southern end of my electorate.

They came from a cross-section of Australia's community. They included 24-year-old postal mechanic Rowland Henry Jack Head from upper Ferntree Gully. He joined up on 16 October 1916, sailing for France abroad the RMS Omrah. He served through the war with the 4th Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps, being discharged in 1919. We had Timothy James Madigan of Macclesfield, a very beautiful part of my electorate. He needed the written permission of his mother to enlist, as he was only 18 years old. He was a farm labourer whose family lived in nearby Gembrook. He served as a private in the 4th Light Horse Regiment and subsequently as a gunner of the 105th Howitzer Battery. He also served until the end of the war. Thirdly, the 24-year-old John Alexander Cameron, a labourer who was born in Clyde at the southern end of my electorate. Married to Eva, he joined up in October 1915. He enrolled as a private in the 21st Battalion AIF. He was discharged due to ill health in mid-1916, only to reenlist in 1917. He was wounded in October 1918 in France, only a month before the end of the war.

These are just three stories from ordinary Australians who signed up to serve on behalf of their country. They are three ordinary lives that form part of Australia's Anzac legend, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians called on to serve their country in war. On Anzac Day, it will both a privilege and an honour to reflect on these men and their journeys and those who followed them in subsequent conflicts.