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Thursday, 29 October 1964

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- 1 am grateful to have received the call from you at this stage, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because I was waiting to mention this item and was pleased that Senator O'Byrne had referred to it. The grant seems to me, if I may say so, wholly inadequate as an indication of the Government's recognition of the significance of this occasion. I hope that at some stage the Minister will give the Committee a more detailed statement of what is proposed. From what he has said, it would appear that this is simply a vote of £20,000 to the Returned Servicemen's League, which will use it to assist the passages to Gallipoli of veterans who otherwise could not make the trip. But how many will £20,000 assist to make the trip?

Honorable senators who have read Alan.brooke's book about Gallipoli and his graphic description of the gardens and cemeteries there will have noted that his only complaint is that no-one ever visits them. We in this country who were striving for our national existence 50 years ago now come along on the 50th anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli and proffer £20,000. I had hoped that the Government would recognise this as an occasion when generous assistances would be granted. My own idea of the kind of assistance that should be given on an occasion like this is £200,000, so that every person who fought there, if he were able to make the trip, could bc assisted to such a degree that his contribution, if he were in any way in need of money, would be minimal. I know nothing of the R.S.L.'s plans. Not being an ex-serviceman who went out of Australia, one of the things that I have against the League is that it denies membership to those who were denied exit from Australia. A national epoch-making event such as this should not be left entirely in the hands of the R.S.L. The Government should take the opportunity to see that the pilgrimage is one of national significance. 1 can imagine a contingent going to the Gallipoli Peninsula and making such an occasion of the meeting with their former Turkish enemies as to demonstrate the way in which goodwill can be recovered; then making a pilgrimage through the capitals of central Europe, including some of the German towns, and finally arriving in London. I should think that Australia and Australia's relationship with Europe - tremendously significant as it is - would receive a great stimulus. It would do everybody good. The Government appropriates £33,000 for the Commonwealth Literary Fund and £20,000 for the pilgrimage to Gallipoli. I think - I say this without any heat and very quietly because I want to evoke sympathy and interest - the comparison is deplorable.

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