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Speeches

Centenary of Anzac

Anzac Day is entrenched in the hearts and minds of the young and old, of all colours and creeds in communities in Durack. Anzac Day 2015, dare I say, I believe outshone Australia Day celebrations. The government, the communities, the RSL and various entities have indeed been privileged to work together joyfully and respectfully to reignite, honour and herald the Anzac story.

I had the pleasure of attending four Anzac events in my electorate of Durack: at the coastal communities of Kalbarri, Cervantes and Jurien Bay, and the idyllic Wheatbelt hamlet of Yuna. I also visited the inland town of Mullewa, where Father O'Bryan rededicated the World War 1 memorial, which was restored with the support of an Anzac centenary grant. With pride, a heavy step and deep reflection on their faces, the school children, the volunteers and communities produced sensitive and unique events in Durack that highlighted the importance of Anzac in their towns—lost uncles and grandfathers, letters from the Front, sweethearts left waiting, re-enactments. I particularly enjoyed Jim Clark's Anzac address, which he presented with such passion and force; the flag bearers in Kalbarri; the attention to detail of the Yuna and Cervantes primary school children. Well done to Mickey Russell and the Cervantes Primary School, the Yuna Primary School, Kalbarri District High school and the Jurien Bay RSL, ably led by secretary Barry Wilson. It was obvious for all to see that after 100 years, Anzac still touches the lives of almost every family in Australia.

Working with my team over recent months, I am pleased that many localities in Durack received federal funding for Anzac centenary projects. The funds were used for: commemorative services in Morawa and Koorda; construction or upgrades to memorials in Broome, Mt Magnet, Tom Price, Moora, Meckering, Mullewa and Wongan Hills; displays, artworks and reliefs in Carnamah, Dalwallinu and Perenjori; the restoration of honour rolls in Geraldton; interpretive signage in Mukinbudin; and    through the state library, making WA's World War I history available worldwide through the digitisation of World War I newspapers. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank Leanne Thurston from my Geraldton office for all her hard work to achieve these outcomes for Durack communities.

I want to use this opportunity to reflect on the role of women in World War I. Peter Rees's 2008 book The other Anzacs: nurses at war, 1914-1918 indicated that around 2,500 nurses saw overseas service with the Australian Army Nursing Service during the World War I, while approximately 720 others served overseas with other allied nursing services. Interest was reportedly so strong in serving overseas that at least 130 nurses chose to circumvent the waiting lists in Australia and travel independently to England to join the Australian Army services British equivalent. Rees also noted that 44 Australian Army nurses received the Royal Red Cross for their service and 143 were awarded the Associate Royal Red Cross.

As part of its World War I commemorations, the City of Greater Geraldton's regional library in my electorate of Durack noted the service of Olive Goldridge Hall, who lived in Geraldton and enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service on 6 August 1915 as a 28-year-old trained nurse. On 14 March 1918, a letter Hall wrote home to her mother was published in the Geraldton Guardian, detailing her experiences and noting the recent Christmas celebrations. On the home front, many Australian women became voluntary active members of patriotic funds. These women were the mothers, wives and sweethearts of the brave Aussie soldiers. The patriotic funds were established to provide help services such as medical care and social and financial support to returning soldiers.

A branch of the British Red Cross was established in Australia on 13 August 1914 by Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, wife of the Governor-General at the time. It is quite incredible that by 1918 there were 2,200 Red Cross branches across Australia, involving more than 55,000 women. Many other patriotic fundraising organisations were set up, including the Victorian League of Western Australia. It has been estimated that these organisations collectively fundraised a total of around £14 million, which is a considerable amount given that Australia's total defence expenditure between 1914 and 1918 was €188 million. We know this organisation today as the Australian Red Cross, which celebrated its own centenary in 2014. In the postwar period, the Red Cross has focused on social welfare, national emergencies, natural disasters, the blood bank and first aid programs. Today it has around one million members, volunteers and staff. Its role may have changed since the commencement of World War I, but its desire to help those who need it most has never waned. Well done to the Australian Red Cross.

Many people from my electorate of Durack contributed to the World War I effort. It is opportune moment to mention and honour some of those individuals as we reflect on 100 years, and the incredible contribution the Anzacs made to our nation.

Henry Joseph Bradley was a 28-year-old labourer living in Geraldton when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in September 1914. Mr Bradley embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Ceramic on 22 December 1914, travelling to Egypt before landing at Anzac Cove at approximately 6 pm on 25 April 1915. Following his service at Gallipoli, Mr Bradley moved with his battalion to the Western Front where he was not only progressively promoted to the rank of lieutenant, but also awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal in November 1916 and the Military Cross in 1918, returning to Australia in December 1918. Mr Bradley also had two brothers, William and Nicholas, who served in and returned from war.

Walter Edward Parry, a 24-year-old telegraphist from Geraldton, enlisted as a private in the AIF's 11th Battalion. On 18 August, the Geraldton Guardian reported that Parry was one of 23 selected as the second contingent to enlist from Geraldton. They were 'given a stirring and enthusiastic send-off' that morning as they departed south by train. Mr Parry embarked from Fremantle on 2 November 1915 bound for Gallipoli, where he landed on 25 April 1915. Mr Parry served on the peninsula until August, when he was evacuated due to illness. After recuperating, he joined the 21st Field Artillery Brigade in Belgium in May 1916. Later in November, Parry, now of the rank of bombardier, was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. Mr Parry returned to Australia in October 1918.

This year, the hundredth commemoration of the Anzac's landing at Gallipoli is a proud and historic moment to pause, to reflect and to be thankful. The reaction of Australians to this 100-year commemoration confirms that Anzac is firmly embedded as a day of national pride. It unites us as one. Those people who attended Anzac services for the first time—and I know there were many—said to me they would never miss another Anzac Day service. It made them so proud to be Australian, and now they know more clearly what it means to be Australian. I have to say I agree with them. For me and for Durack, the Anzac 100-year anniversary is a new coming of age for Australia. Lest we forget.

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