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Thursday, 17 March 1966

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) .- This is technically grievance day, but I hope I will be forgiven if I turn it, for a few moments, into a thanksgiving day. I believe that not only myself but many others will wish to tender the thanks of the whole of the members of the Desert Mounted Corps to the Government. It is right and proper that I should express these thanks in this place following the announcement that was made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) this morning. Many of us, for a long time, have been asking that another replica of the Desert Mounted Corps memorial originally erected on the Suez Canal just outside Port Said should be erected on a readily accessible sit in Australia. As the Minister said, the fund for the original memorial was started by the contribution of a day's pay from every member of the Corps. We have been asking that a second replica should be placed in Canberra. May I therefore, on behalf of, I think from memory 28 Desert Mounted Corps ex-servicemen's associations in Australia, and on behalf of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Association - which also has been associated with us in this request - tender our very heartfelt gratitude and warm thanks to the Government for the decision announced this morning.

It is unfortunate that the original statue was destroyed. We are not in any way jealous of Albany for having the first replica of the memorial erected there. In fact, I think all of us felt honoured that this particular statue, or its replica, should have been erected at Albany as a memorial or a reminder that that was the spot where the first Australian convoy was assembled at the end of 1914. It was assembled in King George's Sound, where it was later joined by some New Zealand ships, and took the first troops to Egypt. However, we did think that Albany was somewhat remote. It is picturesque, it is a fine port, but it does not have the advantage of being central, or in a position where those of the Desert Mounted Corps who are still alive, their relatives and descendants, can come and see this very fine piece of statuary. It is one of the finest equestrian statues in the world today, and now that it is to be erected in Anzac Avenue I am sure that we are all delighted. As I have said, we want to thank the Government most sincerely for the decision announced today.

May I make one further suggestion, namely that on the base of the statue - which will be a low base and not a high base - tablets should be placed setting out the various units of the Desert Mounted Corps. This Memorial is a Corps memorial. It is just not an Australian Light Horse memorial, although the spirit of the statue is undoubtedly symbolised by horsemen. It is a Desert Mounted Corps memorial. The Australian Flying Corps was part of the Desert Mounted Corps. Air Vice Marshal Williams was one of the very active people who supported the request to the Government that a second replica should come to Canberra.

Colonel RexHall of the Camel Corps also joined with us in our representations and has done a tremendous amount of work in putting the case before the Government. I would like to mention also Mr. Clive Newman, an old Light Horseman and former Auditor-General. Others have contributed their efforts and I hope they will excuse me if I do not mention them all individually. The Desert Mounted Corps included the Light Horse, the Camel Corps, the Australian Flying Corps and also all the base units, the hospitals and the lines of communication units. I offer the suggestion that a tablet should be placed on the base of the statutary, stating the various units of the Desert Mounted Corps, because to name only the Anzac Mounted Division and the Australian Mounted Division would not make a complete record.

I join with me in my remarks the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) who has been working with me for many months now in this matter. He asked the question; I am rendering the thanks. We are very grateful to the Government. We believe that the memorial will be a great asset to the National Capital. I am perfectly sure that if members of the Corps cannot attend the unveiling, they will certainly make every effort to see it when it is erected in Anzac Parade.

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