Speeches

ANZAC Day 2019

April 25, 2019

We meet today on Aboriginal land, the land of the Jaggera and the Yugumbir people and we acknowledge them today on this most meaningful today.

 

And in doing so, we pay tribute to every single one of the First Australians who have served and fought for our country, especially those who did so knowing they likely wouldn’t be acknowledged for their service when they returned.

 

I want to thank Trevor, the men and women of the Logan and Districts RSL, for supporting our veterans, for organising this commemoration again this year, and for the opportunity to address you.

 

I know the other dignitaries - Cameron Dick, Jon Raven, Desley Scott, Russell Lutton and others - are very grateful for the invitation, and for the opportunity to be here with so many people from our local community.

 

We thank all the local schools, community organisation and sporting groups, the cadets, who've all come along again this year and gathered in what seems like more and more impressive numbers.

 

And I especially want to acknowledge the military men and women from Australia and New Zealand – those who served, those who are still serving.

 

Those like Hayden who I met this morning who has just enlisted and is about to start training.

 

I wanted to acknowledge, on behalf of everyone here, I wanted to acknowledge the service men and women from two great countries.

 

In a community like ours, which is so enriched by such a large and vibrant Kiwi and Pasifika community, it’s worth particularly acknowledging that our forefathers fought and died alongside our brothers and sisters from New Zealand and from the Pacific Islands.

 

And that through that tragedy, and through the despair of war, the unique bond between our countries was galvanised.

 

As you know, it was 104 years ago today, before the sun had even risen, that young men sat huddled in boats as they neared the shore at Gallipoli.

 

Then, as the bows crunched against the sand and pebbles, they surged forward, their legs fuelled by adrenalin but probably also fear, into stinging enemy fire, already sensing the odds were horribly stacked against them.

 

Each year I like to recall Woodridge’s own Frederick Pope; among the very first people ashore at Gallipoli 104 years ago today.

 

As many of you know, he was shot in the shoulder that first day, and was later gassed on the Western Front – but he made it home to raise poultry here in Woodridge.

 

I pay tribute to him each year, not because he literally lived next door to where we stand today, but because to me he represents the very best values we identify with and take pride in today, even a century later.


And above all, they are selflessness and service.

 

In the timeless words of a former Prime Minister, he was one of them, and he is all of us.

 

I’ve recently learned that when Pope first fronted up for service in 1914, as Hayden did recently, two of his workmates tagged along with him. 

 

Their names were Thomas Hodges and Al Fraser.

 

Pope was actually turned away twice before he was accepted because he was a bit too short, but this time - on his third attempt - he was allowed to sign up after the examiners recognised in him his persistence and his dedication.

 

The two mates that went with him -

 

Private Hodges drowned at sea during a training accident in Egypt.

 

Fraser made it to Gallipoli. 

 

He fought alongside Pope on the shores in its early days and, like Pope, was shot within hours of the first engagement.

 

He survived through and he was promoted to Sergeant, but he was later killed in Belgium in 1917.

 

I think of all the remarkable things and all of the remarkable stories around Frederick Pope and his mates; the idea that Fred came home from the battlefield without his two friends that he had enlisted with and yet still put his hand up to volunteer in the Second World War a few decades later, I find that just truly remarkable.

 

Of course, these three men were just some of the many from our local area who served our countries during the First World War.

 

There was also two brothers, called Ralph and Frank Usher, and they were also from Woodridge.

 

And what set them apart a little bit is that they enlisted when they were 16 and 17 years old, when they were still boys.

 

Ralph, having served with the 26th Battalion, returned home here to Woodridge at the end of the war.

 

His younger brother Frank didn't. He was still only 17 when he died of wounds in France in 1917, and he's now memorialised on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

 

One of 60,000 Australians and 17,000 New Zealanders who died during the First World War.

 

And as we gather today, we do so not to glorify war, but to remember and pay tribute to those who endured it.

 

All those from our local area, and across the nation, who serve and who have served.

 

And we remember the stories of our own families too.

 

My relative, Norman Sim, was known by his mates as Snipper.

 

He fell in October 1917.

 

He was first buried on a breezy ridge on the Western Front, but then he was reinterred at Tyne Cot, not far from Pope's mate Al Fraser.

 

Angus Briscoe, another relative, made it home to Australia in April 1919.

 

He was awarded for his courage and skill under heavy machine gun fire in 1918.

 

And you all have your own stories as well, and we need to keep passing them down.

 

Stories of soldiers and signalmen, of nashos and nurses and navigators.

 

And we remember they were much more than that. They were mums and aunties and sisters and daughters. Uncles and brothers and dads and sons.

Of mums and aunties and sisters and daughters, and uncles and brothers and dads and sons.

 

Stories of ordinary people from communities just like ours who did swap safety for sacrifice as they joined a cause much, much bigger than themselves.

Stories of Australians and of New Zealanders who risked their lives in both of those world wars, but also in Japan and Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan – everywhere we have served.

 

Stories told through their kids and grandkids, their nieces and nephews, who wear their medals with such extraordinary pride on days like today.

 

Through the ever increasing ANZAC crowds each year, and as I look out on this one, it makes me very proud that so many people in our community would give up their morning to commemorate today.

 

We will reflect on their service and their sacrifice so it might inspire us to reach the very high standards that they've set for us.

 

And most important of all - the most important thing - is to build this community into something which is truly worthy of the sacrifices they made for us.

 

Lest we forget.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST