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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10266

Mr HALE (2:16 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House of the significance to all Australians of the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —As we approach Armistice Day there is a moment for reflection for all members of this House on the extraordinary events of 90 years ago. In the war which was supposed to end all wars and the carnage which ensued in that war we saw so many of Australia’s brave young men die. Some 50,000 to 60,000 gave their lives in the service of their country not just at Gallipoli but on the killing fields of France and in trench warfare in Belgium as well.

Tomorrow at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month Australians will stand together in one minute’s silence to pay tribute to all those Australian men and women who have fought in the service of our country. We will remember those who gave their lives for the nation. We will remember them not just as brave soldiers, sailors and air men and women but also as wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. We will honour their courage and we will honour their sacrifice. We will remember that the freedoms that we enjoy today are delivered in part because of the sacrifice which they have made. Their legacy is our inheritance.

In honouring the sacrifice of all those who have served our country we will also acknowledge what these extraordinary men and women have taught us. They have endured hardship and adversity with courage and resilience. They have shown us the importance of the bonds of friendship, of perseverance and above all of deep loyalty towards mates. Australians have responded to their country’s call to service with pride and dedication and courage in hard-fought battles across a century: the First World War, the Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and more recently our operations in East Timor, the Solomons, Iraq and Afghanistan and peacekeeping operations around the world. As we remember the past let us keep in mind all those who wear the uniform of Australia today. As I have said before, there is no higher calling in Australia than to wear this nation’s uniform.

The events of 1918 may seem now to belong purely in the annals of history because those who fought in that war are no longer with us, but the impact of their sacrifice and the loss of so many of that generation felt in every small country town and every centre in our country still has its effect today. You still run into families who lost fathers and grandfathers. The implications for them personally of the sacrifice delivered by their loved ones in that conflict are still acute and deeply felt. We honour their service, we honour their sacrifice and we as a nation together will commemorate that with the appropriate solemnity tomorrow on the 90th anniversary of the armistice.