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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3307


Mr MARLES (Corio) (10:15): This year marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Next year will mark the centenary of Anzac. As everyone in this chamber knows, a program has been put in place to provide small grants to people within our various electorates to pursue projects which seek to commemorate and illuminate the activities of the First World War so that the younger generation can know exactly what the outstanding deeds of our forefathers and indeed foremothers were in the First World War.

Geelong has a very significant history when it comes to the First World War. There were four people with Geelong connections who won Victoria Crosses during the First World War: Albert Jacka, Percy Cherry, James Newland and Rupert Moon. Percy Cherry and James Newland won their Victoria Crosses defending the same ground in France at Lagnicourt. There are similarities amongst all of those Victoria Cross recipients. Three of those, Newland, Cherry and Jacka, all fought in the one battle at Pozieres. All four VC recipients fought first at Gallipoli and then on the Western Front. There is an intriguing question, in looking at the history of those people, as to whether or not those Geelong VC recipients actually met each other when they were in France and in the battle.

Osborne House is another great example of the connection that Geelong has with the First World War. Osborne House is a beautiful historic building in Geelong. From 1913 to 1915 it was Australia's first naval training college and from 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War was a naval convalescent hospital for those who had received injuries during the First World War. The Geelong Peace Memorial is the principal war memorial in Geelong. It was built after funds were raised through a public subscription after the First World War to commemorate those who had lost their lives during the First World War.

It is an important moment in our history. It goes to the core of the Australian identity. It is something which we need to commemorate. I have set up a committee consisting of Rod Macdonald, who is a Geelong city councillor, Bob Marmion, who is a local historian, and Brian Dunn, who is the secretary of the Geelong RSL sub-branch, to look at applications for projects for this funding. But today I really make a call for everyone in Geelong who has had an idea about how we can commemorate these events and how we can better explain them to a generation who live 100 years after to come forward. Applications close on 31 May. We would love to see your ideas.