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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2053


Senator MICHAEL BAUME (1.44 p.m.) —This is the last opportunity I will have before Anzac Day to deal with a matter relating to Australia's heritage, which is certainly very close to me and, I know, very close to many members, particularly on this side of the chamber. I do not want to make a political issue of this when I say `on this side of the chamber', because obviously many honourable senators on the other side of the chamber are also concerned about the heritage significance of Gallipoli and Anzac Day, even though that concern does not appear to be shared by the Prime Minister (Mr Keating), who somehow feels that Australia had no military heritage until the New Guinea campaign 27 years after the drama of Gallipoli.

  The reason I want to raise it is that at the end of January this year I was fortunate enough to visit Gallipoli and to see where these dramatic, incredible events actually took place. It is an experience that I will certainly never forget and an experience that I hope many Australians have the opportunity of having because it does dramatise the incredible difficulties and the extraordinary heroism that were required to overcome those difficulties. It gives one an immense feeling of pride in being Australian and in that part of our heritage.

  What particularly impressed me about that visit to Gallipoli was to be informed by the Turkish authorities of the enormous number of young Australians who come to visit Gallipoli. The great majority of Australian tourists to that area are backpackers who have come to see this important part of their heritage. In fact, the younger generation of Australians appears to be far more alert to the significance of Gallipoli and Anzac Day and our heritage in this respect than the present generation. They certainly seem far more alert to it than our Prime Minister.

  I was intrigued to note the number of tourist hotels or facilities providing accommodation to younger Australians. It seems that there is an `Anzac House' hostel or hotel in most of the small towns around there, particularly in Cannakkale which is across the Bosporus but which is the tourism centre for those people wanting to see Gallipoli. It also happens to be conveniently close to Troy which is certainly a place worth visiting. One comes across the evidence of civilisations so ancient and yet so significant and so well developed. As I recall, there are something like 11 Troys on the one site.

  I particularly wanted to take this opportunity to thank those Turkish officials who were involved in my visit, who not only facilitated it but who extended very kind hospitality to me. In particular, I would like to mention the Director of Tourism of Cannakkale region, Mr Nasit Bora Aydogan, who was a very kind and hospitable host. He arranged my bus visit to the battlefields where it is incredible to see the trenches—in very modified form, I guess, as 75-odd years of weather have obviously largely destroyed them. People can still see the outlines of the trenches and how close they were, particularly at the neck where hand grenades would be thrown from one trench to the opposing trench something like 10 metres away. The hand grenade would then be thrown back; it was an incredibly dangerous way to try to survive.

  That tour was uplifting and exciting, particularly to discover the significance the Turkish people themselves recognise in the Gallipoli campaign because it was there that Ataturk probably had Turkey's only victory in the First World War. It was a victory very hard fought against a very tough opponent, particularly in that rugged part of the campaign where the Australians and the New Zealanders were fighting but also in the other parts of the campaign where British and other Commonwealth troops were engaged.

  The Turks have created some very significant memorials, not only to their own troops but also to the Australians and New Zealanders and other Commonwealth members who fought in that campaign. There are some touching memorials. The most touching, I suppose, are the gravestones of young Australians, some as young as 14, who had lied their way into active service. You see memorials to them and to so many other young Australians. I imagine that the young Australian backpackers who come to see this part of their heritage cannot help but be moved by noting the number of people of their own age or younger who died in that campaign.

  To Mr Aydogan, I want to say how grateful I am for the outstanding support and assistance he gave me and for arranging my visit. I also want to thank Mr Hanifi Araz of Anzac House, who organised a tourist guide, Mr Graham Lee. Mr Lee is an Englishman but he is cognisant of the significance to Australia of the Dardanelles campaign. He took me around. In fact, he helped me discover a bullet which still had some explosive in it. The explosive powder which we shook out of the bullet burnt with quite a fizz after all those years. It had rained quite recently and, when it does rain, all sorts of mementos are uncovered in those trenches, from bones to bits of pots and other evidence of people spending a long time in appalling conditions fighting bitterly in a very tough campaign.

  The respect which the Turks hold for the Australians is manifest. The fact that the Turks now venerate a campaign that brought about a revolutionary change in their own country is something of which all Australians should be aware. If it had not been for Ataturk's enormous popularity emerging from his successful Dardanelles campaign, a brilliantly fought campaign on his part, there is no doubt that Turkey would not have made the incredible leaps forward that did take place after the First World War. For example, Ataturk gave the vote to women long before many so-called civilised Western countries did. That is a matter of great significance.

  I would also like to thank very much some people who facilitated the trip. One is Oguz Ates, who was the first secretary at the Turkish embassy here in Canberra. I am very pleased that I will have the opportunity tonight to have dinner with the Turkish ambassador, Ambassador Aka. Oguz Ates gave me the appropriate names and facilitated my visit by arranging for me to see, for example, the Turkish consul's tourism expert in New York when I was attending the United Nations General Assembly. She was a marvellous help in making the booking arrangements for accommodation and so on. Naturally, I paid for it, Mr Acting Deputy President. Otherwise I would be declaring an interest in the sense that I had received a benefit. That was very welcome assistance and I thank all of those people.

  There is one thing I should mention in passing before concluding. I would say to those who wish to go there that it is about a six-hour bus ride from Istanbul. If people go in mid-winter there is something of a problem. The Turks are still very enthusiastic cigarette smokers, it is quite cold in January, and the bus windows are hermetically sealed. My wife and I found that, in spending six hours in a 50-seater bus when there were 48 Turkish smokers, we tended to do a little bit of involuntary second-hand smoking. Apart from that slight inconvenience, it is a magnificent place, which Australians, if they get the opportunity to visit, should not miss. I am certainly very grateful to all the Turkish officials for their very kind hospitality. They took my wife and me to dinner and were magnificent hosts.

  I also should mention the people of the Australian War Graves Commission who were very helpful in this matter. Mr Volkan Susluoglu was very kind and assisted in a significant way. I say to honourable senators, if I have not been able to encourage any other of my colleagues here, to try to go on this visit because it is very well worth while. If they are in Europe, on the way back from Europe, on a study tour or attending a delegation meeting in Europe, they should try to see this. It is vital, to my mind, that all members of parliament should be well aware of our heritage. It seems to me that some things that some members of the Australian parliament are saying indicate a lack of understanding and appreciation of the significant heritage factors—heritage milestones, if you like—that we do have in our short but very significant history.

  I am not saying that people who denigrate the Senate necessarily do not understand the significance of heritage, but I think that an understanding and appreciation of heritage would give a far greater and much better balanced view of what some of the symbols of being Australian are all about, particularly the flag and so on. So I encourage, not only the people of Australia to visit Anzac and, if they can, to do it on Anzac Day, but also encourage Australians far and wide to share in this terribly important part of our heritage. I am very grateful to the Turkish authorities who facilitated my visit.

Sitting suspended from 1.57 p.m. to 2.00 p.m.