The Hon Colin Barnett, Premier of Western Australia; Mr Ron Norris, the Mayor of Mosman Park; Mr Alf Snell, the president of the Mosman Park sub branch of the RSL; Mr Carl Larkin, the life member of the Mosman Park sub branch of the RSL, ladies and gentlemen.
On the 25th of April 1915 the men of the Australia New Zealand Army Corp set foot on a darkened beach on a cliff strewn peninsula 12,000 kilometres from home and began what became known as the Gallipoli campaign.
A legend was born and the ANZAC spirit that was kindled that day has been passed from generation to generation of our defence forces who have fought for freedom on behalf of our country – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom from oppression.
And every year on the 25th of April thousands of Australians across the nation and around the world commemorate the lives of the over 100,000 Australians who have died in the service of our county and fighting for that cause of freedom.
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of when war literally came to Australia, for on the 19th of February 1942 Darwin was bombed. On that day more people were killed in the air raids over Darwin than at Pearl Harbour just two months earlier.
My father was an 18 year old in Darwin and this year, in his 89th year, he has attended a dawn service and marched in the ANZAC march in Adelaide as he has done every year since returning from Darwin after the war. And I know he has done it because my sister has sent me a photograph of him on my mobile as he has walked – standing tall, very proud, as one of the few surviving members of his battalion.
It didn’t end with Darwin and the war continued so close to home. The Japanese forces invaded Papua New Guinea and in a series of battles during 1942 the Allied forces, primarily Australian, drove the Japanese forces back at places that have become household names – Bougainville, Milne Bay, Kokoda. At one point the Japanese forces came within 50 kilometres of Port Moresby and they were turned back along the Kokoda trail back over the Owen Stanley Ranges, changing the course of history.
I visited Papua New Guinea and Bougainville recently and the war cemetery at Port Moresby is home to almost 4,000 war graves. The marble headstones are beautifully maintained and attended by the people of Papua New Guinea evoking memories of the assistance and support that the 20,000 Papua New Guinean civilians gave to the Australian forces when they become known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. This memory, this shared history, means that our relationship with PNG and Bougainville is as strong as ever and we have a shared destiny.
So on this day, the 97th anniversary of ANZAC, the 70th anniversary of the battle for Australia, we salute the service of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, we honour the memory of those who have died and we strive to follow their example by leading lives worthy of their sacrifice.
Lest we forget.