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ANZAC Day speech
Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
ANZAC Day Speech
25 April 2011
(check against delivery)
We gather at this hour, and on this day, to remember the ANZACs who
landed at Gallipoli and who landed in history’s page on 25 April 1915 and
who bequeathed to us this day’s name.
We remember the terrible loss that they and Australia suffered.
We commemorate Gallipoli’s great and enduring significance for our people
and our nation.
We gather too to remember all those Australian men and women who have
served and died in wars and conflicts, on peacekeeping duties, in disaster
relief and on humanitarian assistance missions.
There is an unbroken lineage from those who landed at Gallipoli to you,
some of the 3000 young Australian men and women who currently serve
our national interest on operations overseas.
You have chosen as your standard the glorious achievements of the
original ANZACs. Your distinguished service here in Afghanistan will make
you a standard bearer for those who follow.
Yours is a noble calling.
You are asked to gallantly and selflessly tread the rough and
uncompromising path of duty and sacrifice and to do so with compassion
for those to whom we extend the hand of friendship.
We remember today that 23 young Australians have fallen here in
Afghanistan. We honour their memory. They were and remain our mates.
We remember that half of them have fallen in the short time since ANZAC
Our thoughts are with their loved ones back home today.
Those men, like the first ANZACs, and like you, came from the broad
sweep of Australian society.
Like the first ANZACs, and like you, they volunteered to serve in Australia’s
uniform, and to defend our nation and the values we hold dear.
And like you and the many who have served, they took on tough,
dangerous, vital work, far from home.
Your work here, in Uruzgan Province, is surely tough and dangerous.
The award of the Victoria Cross twice in Afghanistan, for the first time since
1969, is a measure of the test you face.
It is also a measure of your determination.
Your work is making a real difference on the ground.
Your work has seen you and Afghan forces extend security to areas
previously controlled by the Taliban - from the Tarin Kot bowl to the
Mirabad valley in the east, Deh Rawud in the west, and north through the
Baluchi valley into Chora.
Together you are covering more ground, extending the reach of the Afghan
government throughout the province.
But we must expect the Taliban to fight back.
The coming summer will be tough.
We can expect our adversaries to strike against coalition forces and
As we prepare for it we are mindful of the human toll of the fight.
Among the Afghans, among other nations, and at home, you are highly
respected for your efforts and your results.
In the tradition of Australians serving around the world, you are known for
your regard for the local Afghan people, among whom you work and live.
Equally, you are known for your professionalism and bravery against a
These are qualities shared by Australians whenever and wherever they
These are qualities and principles Air Chief Marshal Houston has embodied
throughout his 41 years service to the nation.
This is the CDF’s last ANZAC Day in uniform - a uniform adorned with an
Air Force Cross, awarded for his skill and daring as a helicopter pilot.
We thank him for his leadership and his exceptional service to our nation.
Today as well quiet pride is mixed with the tragic sense of loss at lives cut
so cruelly short.
Quiet pride in the fierce independence of the Diggers, in their unfailing
loyalty to their mates through good times and bad.
Quiet pride in a legacy which underpins what we aspire to as a nation and a
The sacrifice that we honour today helped forge our national identity,
helped forge our natural characteristics and helped set our national values
A nation egalitarian in spirit and independent by nature.
A belief in a “fair go” for all and in not leaving the weak or vulnerable
Optimism about what can be achieved by ingenuity and by working
Defiance against the odds and finding strength in a sense of humour in
Gallipoli now embodies these characteristics in an enduring way.
It is an indelible part of our history and a continuing inspiration for our future
as we join in ongoing respect and gratitude for the fallen.
Lest We Forget.