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Anzac Day Bill 1994

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House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Veterans' Affairs

Commencement: Royal Assent.


Provide for the 25 April of each year to be known as Anzac Day and that that day be the national day to recognise and commemorate those who have served Australia in war and war-like conflicts.


Anzac day originally commemorated the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 during World War I. After World War II it became a day of rememberance for all the dead of those two wars. It has now become a day to commemorate the service of all those involved in those two wars and later conflicts. Anzac day was first observed in 1916. The 25 April has been a public holiday in all States each year since about 1920.

On 6 December 1994, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs announced that the Government would legislate to give formal recognition to Anzac Day. In making the announcement, the Minister said "the move had great symbolic significance, particularly for those who had served Australia in time of war. At the moment, people still remember what happened ... but there is a fear that it may not be observed as much in ensuing years." 1

The Age of 7 December 1994 reported the Government's announcement as having bipartisan support within the Australian Parliament and the support of the Returned Services League (RSL). The RSL's deputy national president, Mr Bruce Ruxton, is reported as saying that "I think it is wonderful. We've been wanting this for a long time."

It is stated in the Explanatory Memorandum to this Bill that "[T]he decision to introduce this bill flows from concerns within the community about the future recognition and observance of Anzac day. Those concerns were reflected by the Hon Clyde Holding in a motion which was debated in the House of Representatives on 6 June 1994."

On 6 June 1994 the Hon. Clyde Holding moved in the House of Representatives:

That the House:

(1) notes that the Anzacs who landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 were instrumental in forging a new identity for Australia and further notes that although the landing was a lifetime ago the deeds of those Anzacs still speak a message of selfless service and sacrifice that will last forever;

(2) recognises that Anzac Day is a day to remember those who left their homes with a strong desire to return but did not, as well as those who did return but carried with them for the remainder of their lives the scars of their experiences;

(3) recognises that Anzac Day is serve, to suffer discomforts, dangers and fears and to risk their lives in defence of their country and in the pursuit of peace, justice and freedom;

(4) salutes on Anzac Day the spirit of the Anzacs and in paying tribute to them calls on Australians to dedicate themselves to striving for their country as the Anzacs did and to upholding the finest qualities of courage, commitment, endurance and mateship; and

(5) is of the view that the Australian Government should declare Anzac Day as Australia's National Day of Commemoration and that it be held on 25 April in each year and on no other day. 2

The motion received bipartisan support. 3

Main Provisions

Clause 3 provides that the national day to recognise and commemorate those who served Australia in war and war-like conflicts is to be known as Anzac Day and held on 25 April each year.


1. The Age, 7 December 1994.

2. Weekly House Hansard, 6 June 1994, p. 1392.

3. See: Weekly House Hansard, 6 June 1994, pp.

1393, 1396, 1398 and 1400.

Chris Field (062772439)

Ian Ireland (062772438)

Bills Digest Service 27 January 1995

Parliamentary Research Service

This Digest does not have any legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

Commonwealth of Australia 1995.

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1995.