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Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Page: 5449

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:00 PM) —Mr Speaker, I seek indulgence to make a statement to express deep sadness at the passing of First World War serviceman John Ross. I ask the House to join with me today in remembering Mr Ross, who was the last surviving Australian serviceman of the First World War. I would also like to extend my sympathies to his family at this time.

Mr Ross was 110 when he passed away at 3.30 this morning at the Golden Oaks Nursing Home in Bendigo. John, or Jack as he was known, was a clerk when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in January 1918, at the age of 18. When Jack enlisted, Australian forces were fighting battles on the Western Front and in the Middle East. He trained at the Wireless Training School and was posted to the 1st Depot Battalion at Broadmeadows camp in Victoria. While the war ended before he was deployed, Private Ross demonstrated his willingness to serve Australia at this tumultuous time in our history. With the end of the war, and the demobilisation of the Australian Imperial Force, Private Ross was discharged on Christmas Eve 1918. That is a fair while ago. During the Second World War Jack Ross served his country again, as a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps. In civilian life, Jack Ross worked at the Victorian Railways for more than 45 years, retiring in 1964. Jack was a life member of the Australian Labor Party.

It has been more than 90 years since the end of the First World War. We remain grateful to those like Jack Ross who volunteered to serve our country. We will continue to remember and to honour their legacy. Today we mourn the death of Jack Ross. I ask that we also reflect on the service and sacrifice of the 417,000 Australians who served our nation during the First World War and the 61,000 Australians who gave their lives. We will remember them.