Page 1712 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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I think it is appropriate that we reflect on the very significant support and interest that has developed and continues to gather strength within Australia, and indeed at Gallipoli itself, by Australians young and old. I think it is a very interesting and encouraging aspect of our celebration of Anzac Day that so many younger Australians—not just teenagers but also children—are now joining celebrations around Australia and at Gallipoli to commemorate those who served in war. We commemorate in particular those who, in fighting for their country and falling on the battlefield, paid the supreme price with their lives in defending Australia and Australian values, and those who suffered afterwards as a result of their commitment to their community and to Australia.

It is interesting that at the Australian War Memorial this year some 25,000 people are estimated to have attended the dawn service, with around 18,000 to 20,000 attending the midmorning service at the war memorial for the march and the ceremony that followed.

I have been mindful for some time that, while the war memorial is a most magnificent memorial to those who have served Australia in times of war, we the people of Canberra—we the Canberra community—do not have a separate or distinct memorial to the Canberrans who joined and served the nation of Australia and paid the significant price of their lives.

The government has, in concert with representatives of service organisations across the board within the ACT, been working for some time to investigate the move, within the service community in particular and the broader community, for an ACT-specific war memorial—a memorial that would recognise the service of veterans and peacekeepers from the ACT.

I think it is fair to say that the ACT or Canberra would be perhaps the only distinct or separate community in the whole of Australia that does not have a memorial dedicated to its citizens. It is an anomaly and an oversight that we as a community have relied on the war memorial as the memorial on which we focus as a nation; but we Canberrans have also, almost by default, focused our attention—at the times when we reflect on the service of our families, of our neighbours, of Canberrans from earlier times—on the war memorial and not on a Canberra-specific memorial that acknowledges and recognises members of our community. It is part of our responsibility as a community to acknowledge in a more personal way, at a more local level, those who served the nation.

The government intends, on the advice of a memorial reference committee, to construct a veterans memorial in Veterans Park off Moore Street. Having agreed to this, we have now begun a design that commemorates the commitment, dedication and sacrifice of Canberrans. We anticipate at this stage that the design will allow for contemplation of and quiet reflection on the contribution of peacekeepers and those who have served the nation through the armed forces.

As I say, it will be simple. It will not contain a full listing of those who have served from Canberra or who made the supreme sacrifice but there will be a website associated with the memorial that will list, to the extent that we can garner them, the names of all the men and women from the ACT who are eligible for the roll of honour and the commemorative roll of the Australian War Memorial.

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