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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11307

Mrs MARINO (ForrestChief Government Whip) (11:13): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) on Remembrance Day on 11 November 2018, we commemorated the Centenary of the First World War Armistice;

(b) from a population of less than five million, more than 400,000 Australians enlisted to serve, and of these, more than 150,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner and more than 60,000 made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives for their country; and

(c) this was an enormous toll for a young nation like Australia with nearly every family and community across the country having experienced a loss of some kind; and

(2) acknowledges:

(a) the service and sacrifice of Australia's current and former serving men and women;

(b) the unwavering commitment of the families who support our veterans on the home front; and

(c) and thanks all current and former defence personnel for their service.

As we know, World War I broke out in late July 1914 and out of a population of around 4.5 million some 416,000 Australians enlisted for service. That was around 10 per cent of the population and it was one of the largest contributions to the imperial war effort. Of those 416,000, more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. As we saw, afterwards war memorials were built, from large cenotaphs in some town squares to memorial flagpoles in schools, community halls and parks all around Australia. I look at the beautiful, evocative Harvey War Memorial, and even at the beautiful Nannup War Memorial.

As the war progressed, the names of battles which we now recognise as household names were spoken about in hushed tones and great men like Sir John Monash rose to prominence. There were names such as Gallipoli, Ypres, Bullecourt, Villers-Bretonneux, Beersheba, Passchendaele and Polygon Wood. I was able to lay a wreath at Ypres several years ago on behalf of Australia at the time. I saw those thousands and thousands of crosses at Ypres. I also saw the Menin Gate, with its over 55,000 names. I met one of the oldest Menin Gate buglers and I thanked him for the fact that they played our last post over 30,000 times voluntarily in the years since. He said to me: 'You listen to me. What we know in this country is that at the time the Germans were rolling across this nation it was like genocide. What we know in this nation is that all we are and all we have is because of your Australians' blood on our soil.' That was a very profound experience for me.

With the final assault on the Hindenburg Line late in 1918 the German government sought a truce, and that came into effect at 11 am on 11 November 1918 and the guns fell silent. This year, in 2018, we have celebrated the centenary of that momentous event—the ending of the first truly global war and the end to a war that devoured the lives and spirit of 16 million soldiers on both sides. It took almost an entire generation of men from the earth. Allied countries took decades to fully recover from the loss. Governments fell, societies changed forever and the seeds of the next world war were sown.

But we remembered on 11 November 2018. We remembered the sacrifice of those who served and died for what they believed in. In the centuries since Armistice almost two million men and women have served with pride in our armed forces. I want to thank and acknowledge the work of Brendan Nelson, the director of the War Memorial, who has done an outstanding job in ensuring the War Memorial plays an appropriately central role in commemorations and all of those who made the over 60,000 poppies we saw on the lawns of the War Memorial, which made a breathtaking reminder of the sacrifice made in World War I. I want to pass on to the Speaker my congratulations for the parliamentary program of commemorative events and the poppy displays in the building and the forecourt.

But it is also important to remember that there is an axial link between the Australian War Memorial and Parliament House that was purposely incorporated in the architecture. When certain doors are open there is a direct line of sight from the Prime Minister's office to the War Memorial and specifically a line between the cabinet room and the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier. It is a deliberate reminder to those in government that in decisions involving the use of armed forces they should never forget those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

In the words of John McCrae's famous poem, 'We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved, and now we lie, in Flanders fields.' We must never ever forget the sacrifice of those who served our nation in uniform and we must recommit ourselves to supporting them into the future. I want to acknowledge the work of all of our RSLs and those who conducted commemorative services on 11 November this year in acknowledging the Armistice centenary.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): Is the motion seconded?