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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3602

Mr SOMLYAY (Fairfax) (11:27): My comments today are slightly different from those of the member for Griffith, whom I follow, in that I am going to commend the federal government for one of its programs. I stand here today on the cusp of retirement after 23 years in federal parliament. I am grateful that one of the projects that will mark my final year in public life will be the facilitating of local commemorations for Australia's centenary of Anzac.

In Fairfax, as in every other electorate across the nation, local communities are being assembled to provide authentic, grassroots input into a milestone of exceptional historical significance. This community involvement is a tried and tested blueprint that follows the admirable Australia Remembers 1945-1995 campaign model, which I also had the opportunity to contribute to. That was an initiative of a former Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Con Sciacca.

I know from my own experiences in my electorate that there is an increasing willingness by communities to engage in events and activities that commemorate our Anzac past. I do not think Fairfax is unique in that regard. As the centenary of Anzac draws closer, this community momentum will build right across Australia as we collectively mark this milestone in our history. It is a milestone that is transcending its military origins. It is a milestone that also symbolises the attributes that define us as a nation.

In my electorate of Fairfax the centenary local grants committee brings together a dedicated group of community members who have willingly volunteered their time and energy. They have accepted their task with vigour and determination to ensure that sincere homage is paid to those who have served and sacrificed for our country and to those who continue to do so. I look forward to the outcomes of their efforts. Local resident the Reverend Ian Taylor, who is 86 years young with an exemplary military, missionary and chaplaincy record, is our committee chair. Time has not wearied his enthusiasm for community service. I have known Reverend Taylor for many years and have advocated for his selection in Gallipoli delegations, so far without success. But I am still hopeful for the future.

It has been through my association with the reverend that another of my constituents, Marj Cheek, has sharpened my appreciation of Anzac privileges. Marj shares not only a year of birth with the Reverend Taylor but also an aspiration to visit the shores of Gallipoli. For Marj, the motivation is highly personal and emotional. Her father served there. Marge's father is in a painting hanging in the War Memorial which depicts a scene from the trenches of Gallipoli. I hope both Reverend Taylor and Marj Cheek realise their Gallipoli goals. I also hope that many other direct descendants like Marj have the opportunity to attend the 2015 ceremony on the sacred site.

The Anzac legend was born from incredible human courage and sacrifice. I appreciate there has to be a process in place to best manage the Anzac Day centenary commemoration at Gallipoli. But, generations on, I hope that those most deserving of their ticket for this once-in-a-lifetime event do not become modern-day casualties of the ballot.

I want to raise an issue that was covered by the budget which disappoints me greatly—that is, the decision by the government to close the Australian embassy in Budapest in Hungary. People here know that I was born in Hungary. There are 100,000 Hungarians living in Australia. They have a very active embassy in Budapest. When the member for Griffith was running around the world trying to get countries to support him in his endeavours for a seat on the Security Council for Australia, Hungary was one of only three European countries which supported Australia in that successful endeavour. I ask Senator Bob Carr, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to reconsider that decision. Downsize the embassy by all means if we need to save money but do not abandon the embassy in Hungary and those Hungarian people in Australia.