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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3941

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (11:31): On 2 April 2011 the member for Hindmarsh, Mr Georganas, and I attended the Malta ANZAC War Memorial Committee of South Australia's special fundraising evening. A number of dignitaries, including South Australian Governor His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC and Mrs Scarce; National RSL President Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO and Mrs Doolan; South Australian State RSL President Jock Stratton; the Honorary Consul of Malta, Mr Frank Scicluna OAM and Mrs Josie Scicluna; and others, including several state and federal MPs, attended. Proceeds from the evening are being used to construct an ANZAC war memorial in Malta in recognition of the wounded ANZACs who were evacuated from Gallipoli to Malta during World War I.

It is believed that more than 4,000 wounded Anzac soldiers were evacuated to Malta in World War I, where they were hospitalised and cared for. Many of them died, and their bodies were returned to Australia and New Zealand, but it is estimated that about 200 Australians and 70 New Zealanders are today buried in Malta. Her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, on her first state visit overseas and on the first visit by an Australian Governor-General to Malta, laid flowers on the graves of Anzacs buried there.

Only this week we acknowledged in this House the passing of Australia's last surviving veteran of World War I, Mr Claude Choules, and I extend my respects to him and my condolences to his family. Mr Choules's death was a reminder that World War I commenced some 97 years ago. It is now a long time. But our recognition, respect and appreciation of the Anzacs who served in World War I has in no way diminished. From the number of Australians who attend the Anzac Day services around the country, the opposite seems to be occurring. Similarly, the support of Malta and the Maltese people should not be forgotten. I have no doubt it was gratefully appreciated by the soldiers who were sent there and by their families.

The proposed six-metre-high memorial, which will cost about $200,000, is being designed and sculpted by Gianni Bonnici. It will be created in the Argotti Botanical Gardens, in Floriana, Malta, and is believed to be the first ANZAC memorial to be erected outside of Australia, New Zealand or Gallipoli. The close ties between Malta and Australia continued after World War I, and, following World War II, substantial numbers of Maltese people migrated to Australia, where, like so many other post World War II arrivals, they quickly settled into their new homeland, worked hard and contributed to Australia's growth and prosperity.

Ever since the first Maltese free settler, Antonio Azzopardi, came to Australia in 1838, the number of Maltese people in Australia has steadily increased. According to the 2006 census figures, there were about 154,000 people in Australia who claimed Maltese ancestry. Today, the Maltese migrant community in Australia represents the largest Maltese community outside of Malta. Many of them came to South Australia and settled in Adelaide's northern suburbs. Today they have their own regular radio segment on community radio PBA FM. I grew up with Maltese school mates and work mates and feel proud to refer to so many of them—in fact, too many to individually name—as personal friends. I particularly acknowledge the Maltese contingency who participate in the Salisbury RSL remembrance services each year. They are good people whose warmth and compassion reflects the characteristics that earned Malta the title of 'Nurse of the Mediterranean' in World War I.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of members of the ANZAC War Memorial Committee of South Australia: Mr Charles Figallo, who is the CEO; Edgar Agius OAM JP; Joe Briffa; Carmelo Farrugia OAM JP; John Mangion; Peter Salerno; Julie Simon; Peter Hollams; and the Honorary Maltese Consul in South Australia, Mr Frank Scicluna, for their huge efforts in support of the establishment of the memorial in Malta. Last week I spoke with Mr Joe Briffa, one of the committee members, who told me that about $25,000 had been raised on the night, which will go towards the memorial.

For the families of those Australian and New Zealand soldiers who were nursed there and for those still buried in Malta the memorial will be particularly significant.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 11:36 to 11:51

Mr ZAPPIA: To quote the message Prime Minister Julia Gillard read out during the address by the member of Hindmarsh:

The Anzac War Memorial is a fitting tribute to these bonds of friendship commemorating our shared past and the enduring ties that bind our two countries.