Thursday 26 March, 2015

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (12:20): I also rise today to acknowledge that ANZAC Day, 25 April 2015, will commemorate the centenary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. I too pay my respects to the over 416,000 Australians who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and the millions of others who fought and supported the defence efforts of this country since. I also pay tribute to all Australian service men and women, support personnel and animals that have been injured, traumatised or killed in action.

Courage, mateship, sacrifice: these are the sorts of words that come to mind and continue to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity when you talk about ANZAC Day. It goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which we certainly remember Australians who have served and who died, not only in the First World War but in all wars, conflicts and also peacekeeping operations.

In 1914, reports from Europe gave an increasingly desperate forecast, when you see that Europe was teetering towards war in a conflict between an increasingly strong and powerful Germany and the rival British, French and Russian alliance. As Britain returned to work after the August bank holiday Monday, war was declared on Germany, and the declaration involved the whole British Empire. Australia's prime minister, Joseph Cook, said at the time, 'If the old country is at war, so are we.'

It goes without saying that this First World War took an enormous toll. It took an enormous toll on the young Australia of the time. Before I get to that, I also want to mention that the member for Morphett did want to speak this morning. He was, unfortunately, called to an urgent private function, but he commends the motion to the house as well. He is certainly very passionate about this and I would like to think that my contribution reflects his intent as well, as does the member for Finniss's.

Total enlistments at the time, from 1914 to 1918, are said to be over 400,000. It is interesting to note that between 1914 and 1918, the Australian population was about 4.9 million. That is about 10 per cent; it is massive. This war had a huge impact. Out of the around 420,000 Australians enlisted for service in the First World War, 38.7 per cent was of the male population aged between 18 and 44. Of course, this is why in years after this Australia had to 'populate or perish', because this war had a massive impact on the productivity of Australia. Australia made a massive sacrifice for this war. When you look at the enlistments by force or service, 412,953 were part of the Australian Imperial Force; 3,651 were part of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force; 2,861 were part of the Australian Army Nursing Service; and 1,275 were part of the Royal Australian Navy.

ANZAC is intensely connected with its origins at the Gallipoli landing but also subsequent Australian experiences in the First World War and conflicts since. It is interesting to note that the military events from which ANZAC originated and those which have since nurtured it have also occurred mostly outside of Australia. ANZAC is iconically represented through the stereotype of the digger, initially the volunteer civilian foot soldier of the First World War. You will find many of these warrior-type figures across much time and space, but in the modern era these have tended to become very diverse. The Australian equivalent is the digger, whose powerful image was based on the volunteer civilian foot soldier of the 1st AIF and, since then, the term has come to apply to all Australian military personnel.

Although the ANZAC has traditionally been considered a secular concept, ANZAC certainly has very strong overtones of the sacred. It is a commemoration, but also a celebration. The need for commemoration of the war dead, particularly in this conflict, has always been matched by the need to celebrate the birth of a nation, because this is what this conflict did: it saw the birth of a nation.

I have alluded to the centenary of ANZAC committee, which I have been part of in my local electorate. It has been an absolute honour and pleasure to be part of that and to at least do what we can in this day and age to contribute to the memory of those who have served before us. I do pay tribute to the Kensington Park RSL, St Martin's Anglican Church, Campbelltown City Council, St George's Church Magill, Payneham RSL and Glynde RSL, who continue to do fantastic work to recognise the important tradition that is ANZAC. I commend this motion to the house.