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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11311

Mr GOSLING (Solomon) (11:29): I want to thank the member for Forrest for bringing forward this motion. As most would be aware, at 11 am on 11 November 1918, the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare and more than four years of carnage. The Allied armies had driven the German invaders back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months. The first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of a staggering 70 million people and left between nine million and 13 million people dead—perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. For Australia, the cost of this commitment was astronomical. From a population at that time 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. As noted in this motion, there wasn't a family in the country who wasn't personally affected by the war.

Many of our service men and women were and still are first-generation Australians, having emigrated from the UK, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Americas. Others, like myself, have fathers and grandfathers who served with the armed forces. Indeed, my great-grandfather, Thomas Wood, a Scot from Glasgow, served with the British Army in the First World War before emigrating to Australia. Like the Australian nurse that the member for Canberra just mentioned, my great-grandfather, Thomas Wood, survived the Battle of the Somme but was gassed—an injury that probably saved his life, but ruined his health. Upon migrating to Australia, he took off up bush. He was a bit shell-shocked from the First World War, but he found that up in the bush the air was a lot cleaner and more gentle on his lungs. Like many of those who were gassed, he was probably getting around with about a quarter of his lung capacity. He also couldn't handle the noise of the big city, though, and being around people. Like most veterans of his generation, he suffered in silence.

The end of the Great War—the First World War—left Australia with an issue as difficult as the conflict itself: taking care of the survivors, the war widows and their children. It's noteworthy to remember that this generation who were devastated by World War I then had to endure the Great Depression. When the war broke out, Australia was in recession and unemployment continued to grow, peaking at 11 per cent in March 1915. We owe a great debt to those of that generation that persevered through those difficult years as they continued to build our great nation.

Through the federal government's armistice grants, several marvellous projects were funded to commemorate this very significant centenary. In my electorate, I was very happy that I was able to provide armistice grants to the Darwin Chorale, who put on a brilliant show at the Darwin Entertainment Centre that had the audience in tears—tears of laughter and tears of sadness—recalling the stories of young Territorians that went off to fight. Another marvellous production was put on by the Darwin City Brass Band, who performed 'In Their Honour' at the Christ Church Cathedral. Darwin High School are also continuing their tradition of remembrance and are using the armistice grant for an honour board that will honour those who went from Darwin High School to the First World War. Finally, the Darwin Military Museum is using its grant to establish a centenary of Armistice monument at East Point.

One hundred years after the First World War, we paused on the 11th of the 11th to remember those who sacrificed so much in that war and also those that have been lost or damaged serving in conflicts since then. In my electorate of Solomon, in Darwin and Palmerston, services were held at the Darwin Cenotaph, at North Darwin, at the Palmerston Memorial and at Adelaide River. We also had the NT Pipe Band simultaneously playing with other bands around Australia at 3.30 pm that day at the Palmerston Memorial. Well done to them all on this significant anniversary.