Local, Independant and Effective

Centenary of ANZAC - speech, May 26-27, 2015

Posted May 28, 2015



CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (20:52): I am proud to report to this House some of the activities which have taken place in the electorate of Indi to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing. In my speech tonight I would like to comment on the activities I was involved in on Anzac Day, report on the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program and conclude with some general comments on the importance of the values of service, duty and vision.

Anzac Day in north-east Victoria dawned cold and wet. Despite the wet start, the crowds were large in the early morning light at the Wodonga dawn service, at the Anzac morning service in Tangambalanga (Pictured, Kiewa Valley Primary School students) and then during my visit to the World War I Yackandandah Remembers exhibition at the Yackandandah Museum. I was particularly pleased to be able to join many locals at the gunbarrel breakfast provided by the Wodonga RSL and the Vietnam Veterans. As we huddled around the heaters and watched the TV broadcast from the war memorial in Melbourne, we felt a strong sense of camaraderie. I am told that community participation in Anzac Day services has been growing steadily in the past decade across all of Indi, and it is clear from this that we value and honour the commemoration.

Under the federal government's Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program, funding of up to $125,000 was available for each federal member of parliament to support projects in their electorate. I would like to acknowledge the work of the former MP for Indi, Ms Sophie Mirabella, in establishing the initial Indi committee to oversee the processes of community involvement in this program. Under Sophie's guidance a call went out to the various community groups across Indi for projects, and the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program Committee spent much time, energy and commitment considering all these projects. To the committee members, I would like to say thank you for your commitment, your valuable contribution and your insight and knowledge. I would like to
name them for Hansard: David Martin, Bruce Bingham, Doug Brockfield, Norm Fearn, Barbara Riedel, Peter Dixon, Kevyn Williams, Doug Williams and Henry Andrews.

It is with pride that I report to the House some of the projects funded under this program: the Alpine Shire Council commissioned and erected a statue to Albert David (Alby) Lowerson, VC winner, in Myrtleford; the Beechworth RSL sub-branch received funds to refurbish the cenotaph in the Beechworth Town Hall gardens; the Beechworth Theatre Company is staging Alan Seymour's play The One Day of the Year, along with an essay and multimedia competition open to schools and the public; the Benalla RSL sub-branch commissioned three bronze panels commemorating the Australian Flying Corps; Bonegilla RSL received funds for the production of a bronze plaque for the Bonegilla community commemorating 28 soldiers who served in World War I and publication of a book, Brave Bonegilla Boys; the Bright RSL sub-branch's My Great War Hero proposal encourages students at Bright P-12 to research local service men and women, to present this information to a community lunch and to mount a bronze plaque in the existing town memorial about the project; the Chiltern Athenaeum is restoring the wheels of a very old German Krupp 77 millimetre field gun at the Chiltern war memorial and replacing the Middle Indigo school honour board; and I would particularly like to acknowledge the work of the Corryong RSL German Krupp 77 millimetre field gun on the gas-powered cauldron installed at Corryong cenotaph to provide an eternal flame.

Special congratulations go to the trio of horse soldiers who lit a lantern from the eternal flame cauldron at the Shrine in Melbourne, then brought the lantern back to Corryong by horse. Three riders—Heidi Walton, Mark Walton and Bridget Waters—completed the 100 Year Ride Back. It was a fantastic effort. I would like to acknowledge the work of the Corryong RSL sub-branch in pulling this project together. Congratulations go to Michael Leonhard, our project manager, and to the Corryong Neighbourhood Centre for providing the leadership and organisation for this wonderful Anzac Day commemorative event.

Congratulations go to the Eskdale Primary School for the planting of a Lone Pine tree and installing a plaque; to the Greta Sporting Complex for installing two flag poles, an honour board and a rock with bronze plaques —well done Greta; to the Jamieson Community Group for restoring the memorial avenue in Jamieson and planting trees—and thank you for your very warm welcome; to the RSL at Kiewa for installing memorial walls at Yackandandah, Kiewa and Sandy Creek; to the Lucyvale Tennis Club for commissioning two display cabinets to house World War I memorabilia, an honour roll, plaques and other work; and to the Mansfield RSL sub-branch for putting together transportable panels displaying local servicemen and women who were involved in Gallipoli and the Western Front. These panels can be moved around to schools, hospitals, community halls and events. 

I particularly thank them for their warm welcome, and to Sue Gardner, Graham Godber and Geoff Walker, congratulations on your work. Congratulations also go to the Mansfield Historical Society for their fantastic work. I enjoyed so much the three videos that you made. They were about Mansfield's war horses, letters from the frontline and stories of women at war—fantastic work.

Congratulations go to the Rutherglen RSL sub-branch for commissioning a 1.8 metre World War 1 granite soldier to be installed at the Rutherglen Memorial Gardens; to the Wangaratta RSL sub-branch for commissioning a new granite memorial that has been installed next to the cenotaph; to the Whorouly Memorial Park Committee for renovating the Whorouly memorial, conducting a tree planting, putting together a new honour board, and supplying five memorial plaques and a commemorative booklet; and to Wangaratta High School for the research, development and creation of five terrific interpretation boards at the high school—again, it was a fantastic job and so good to see the community and students engaged in that project.

I would also like to acknowledge the four students from Indi who were part of the 80 young Victorians selected to take part in the Anzac Day Gallipoli tour. The students and their teacher chaperones represented Victoria at the 2015 Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli, as well as attending the Australian memorial service at Lone Pine. So, to Maddison, Brad, Oliver and Sarah, and teacher Michelle: well done. 

Debate interrupted.

CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (18:15):  I was in the process of bringing my remarks to a close, considering Anzac Day in Indi.

At this part of my speech, I would like to close by making mention of my grandfather, Gladstone Robert McGowan, who enlisted in the second half of 1915, went to Egypt and then to England, and fought in the trenches of the Somme. He was an engineer. Their team were responsible for laying white tapes across no-man's land so that when the soldiers advanced they had some idea of where they were going.

Our family is so privileged to have his diaries, his maps and his stories. His legacy to his grandchildren was the importance of education. His experience of the war, which saw all material goods—homes and farms lost—left him with the commitment to educate himself and his family, believing that in whatever life presented an education would help in adapting to it. With this inspiration, I chose to be a teacher and am very grateful to Grandpa for his love, service, sense of duty and vision.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank the many public servants involved in this most amazing year of events. To the minister, Senator Ronaldson, and to his staff; and to the staff of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, who are always tactful, diplomatic and ready to answer any and every question: you did a terrific job!

The future of the commemoration of ANZAC Day is now in the hands and the hearts of our youth. In 100 years' time, when Australia is pausing to reflect on the 200 years since that Gallipoli landing in 1915, I hope that the young people of today and their children's children's children will remember the values that were embodied in Anzac, and that those will resonate still in our communities—the values of service to country; duty to family and community; and courage to fight for a better world.

In closing: to the veterans of Indi and to your families and communities, we say thank you for your dedicated service in our armed forces.

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