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Tuesday, 12 November 1985
Page: 2026


Senator SHORT(11.09) —I will take a couple of minutes tonight to draw attention to what I think was an omission on our part as a parliament yesterday, and that was to allow 11 November 1985 to pass without acknowledging in the Parliament the real significance of that date, namely, the sixty-seventh anniversary of the end of World War I. Instead yesterday what we had was a day dominated by the media wallowing in an orgy of self-indulgent pity over the tenth anniversary of the most incompetent government in Australia's history being forced to the polls and to the judgment of the people. In doing that, as I said, we as a chamber omitted to acknowledge the great significance of 11 November 1985 as the sixty-seventh anniversary of Armistice Day 1918. I just wanted to place on record my total agreement with the remarks expressed in today's media by representatives of the Returned Services League of Australia. The National President, Sir William Keys, was quoted in today's paper as warning that Remembrance Day was in danger of being overshadowed by the Whitlam dismissal and he urged all Australians to think less about rage and more about sacrifice. Sir William was quoted in today's paper as saying that the events of 10 years ago were a momentary situation in Australia's political history which tended yesterday to overshadow the real significance of the day, and that is that many thousands of Australians died so that we might live in peace and freedom.

The State President of the RSL in Victoria uttered similar comments. He pointed out that we were remembering yesterday-11 November -for the wrong reasons and not enough deference was shown on Remembrance Day to the servicemen and women who lost their lives in combat. Australia lost no fewer than 60,000 of the flower of Australia's young people in combat in World War I, a loss that deprived Australia of a great human resource, a loss that set our nation back in terms of its development for very many years and a loss that left many survivors, wives and children in Australia bereft and without loved ones. If we do forget `Lest we forget' we as a nation will be much the poorer, because nations that forget the past are doomed to repeat the errors of their past. I hope that we never ever let the memory and the events of 11 November 1918 go from our memories as a nation because, as I say, if we do we will be very much the poorer and we will be refusing to acknowledge the fact that we are here today in one of the few remaining blossoming, thriving democracies of the world because of the sacrifices that so many people so many years ago made on our behalf.