Legislative Council: Wednesday, June 28, 2023



Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. L.A. Henderson:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that Anzac Day was commemorated on 25 April 2023;

2. Pays its respects to the families of those ANZACs who tragically lost their lives during the capture of the Gallipoli Peninsula; and

3. Remembers all Australian personnel and animals who have been injured or killed in action.

(Continued from 3 May 2023.)

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (16:18): I move to amend the motion as follows:

Leave out paragraph 2 and insert:

2. Pays its respects to the families of those ANZACs who tragically lost their lives during the Gallipoli campaign; and

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD (16:19): I rise to support the motion—I am sure that surprises nobody—that calls on the council to duly acknowledge ANZAC Day and pay its respects to the families of those ANZACs who tragically lost their lives during the capture and serious battles on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and remembers all Australian personnel and animals who have been killed or injured whilst in action.

As I have no doubt, all members of this chamber would agree that ANZAC Day provides an important opportunity each year for our nation to honour the courage, the sacrifice and the unwavering spirit of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who served their countries with valour and dedication during times of very significant conflict. It is a day on which we soberly remember and pay homage to those who sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we continue to enjoy and to reflect on the need to protect the values upon which our country was founded.

The day holds great historical significance, of course, as it marks the anniversary of the ANZAC troops landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. The objective of this military campaign was to secure the Dardanelles Strait, which would have opened a new front against the central powers. However, the operation faced intense opposition and the ANZACS encountered fierce resistance from the Turkish forces. The campaign ultimately resulted in heavy casualties and did not achieve its objectives.

Nonetheless, the ANZACS demonstrated remarkable bravery and determination amidst significant adversity, confronting daunting odds in an unfamiliar land and displaying extraordinary resilience when enduring unimaginable hardships. The events at Gallipoli encapsulate the ANZAC spirit that has become the bedrock of our national identity and symbolises the qualities that define us as Australians and New Zealanders—just some of which are courage, endurance, ingenuity and mateship.

Of course, ANZAC Day is not just about remembering those who fought and fell at Gallipoli. It is also an occasion to pay tribute to all those who have served and continue to serve in the defence of our nation in all of the conflicts that we have endured. It is a particularly significant day for my family, as many in this chamber would know, given that my father was in the Australian Army for just over 20 years, serving in Vietnam in 1968 during the infamous Battle of Coral, which was a most severe conflict. He was actually awarded citations for gallantry for this and other battles that he fought in. My father fortunately returned home physically unharmed but there were many who did not, and it is fitting for this council to pay tribute to those who lost their lives or were wounded during service, wherever that may have been.

Just as a side note, members may be interested that I have actually been to Anzac Cove in Gallipoli and experienced the dawn service there some years ago now. It is a very moving experience and I would encourage anyone listening to this or reading it in Hansard, if they have the opportunity to do so to avail themselves of the opportunity because it is something that I think embeds in you a great appreciation for what those very brave people endured during that battle.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (16:22): On 25 April every year, like thousands of Australians, my family and I rise before dawn to commemorate ANZAC Day. We pay our respects to those who lost their lives on the Gallipoli Peninsula, those who fought and died further afield in World War I, as well as remembering those who died in other conflicts and peacekeeping missions that Australian soldiers have participated in.

We all know the story of the ANZAC: 108 years ago, our brave Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, for that fateful campaign. That campaign would last eight long months after the initial landing in April 1915. It is recorded that 8,709 Australians died, and a further 19,441 were wounded. I also acknowledge the heavy toll the Ottoman Empire paid for their victory. Over 251,000 predominantly Turkish and Arab troops were killed or wounded during the campaign to defend Gallipoli.

I would like to spend a moment reflecting on South Australia's military history, which dates to the early days of the colony. According to the Virtual War Memorial, South Australians participated in our young nation's earliest conflicts. It was a Mount Gambier local, one Colonel Frederick Howland, who led the first Australian forces into battle overseas. The memorial has an excerpt from a local newspaper report stating that Colonel Howland guided 'a little band of South Australian volunteers...to assist Her Majesty's Government in South Africa' in late 1899 to serve in the Boer War. You can still find Colonel Howland's sword at the Mount Gambier RSL, and I encourage everyone in this place to visit that local RSL, indeed all local RSLs, when they have the opportunity.

Men and women from South Australia have enlisted to help our efforts ever since those early Boer War days. Military service continues now through the Australian Defence Force and the sector has a strong economic and employment presence in our state. Many in this chamber will recall news reports and correspondence of conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and other campaigns and peacekeeping missions.

I myself am a wife of an Iraq war veteran. In April, my eldest children participated in an ANZAC commemorative service. When my husband and I asked what they learnt from that service and what ANZAC Day means to them, their answers were surprisingly insightful. I would like to summarise their responses for this chamber. They said:

1. To learn from our past. If we understand the causes and consequences of war, we are better able to better avoid future conflicts.

2. To promote peace and reconciliation. Acknowledging past conflicts and the suffering they cause can help nations lead to healing and to forgiveness. It helps us build stronger relationships with the international community through improved respect and understanding.

3. To honour the sacrifices made by those who fought and those left behind. It is imperative that we do not glorify battle. We must acknowledge and reflect on the heavy losses. We must consider the bravery of individuals and the emptiness left in the wake of war. I believe we must continue to pay tribute to those who have fought for their country.

4. To appreciate the freedoms that we enjoy today. The core foundations of our society and our democracy, human rights, values and freedom have been hard fought for and won. We should never take for granted the life of safety and peace that we experience in South Australia relative to so many other parts of the world.

I am grateful that, throughout all our challenges, Australia remains, I believe, the best country on earth and South Australia an absolutely amazing place to live. It is easy for us to get caught up in the day to day, but it is important—in fact it is critical—that each year we continue to pause for ANZAC Day. Some of us attend a dawn service or a parade, like my family do. Some of choose to reflect on our own, a brief pause in the rush of modern life.

However each of us choose to do this, we remember the sacrifices made by those who fought and those who continue to fight for our freedoms on an international level. We remember those who have died or who live with lasting injury, both physically and emotionally, and we remember those who bear the burden of being left behind when their colleagues, their mates and indeed their families, may have passed. We can truly appreciate and value the life that we enjoy today because of those sacrifices.

The Hon. B.R. HOOD (16:28): If there is one day a year that truly brings regional communities together and shows the strength of our country spirit and resolve, it is most certainly ANZAC Day. ANZAC Days in South Australia's regional towns and cities never fail to elicit a strong show of force from the community, who come out in droves to head to their local RSL or war memorial for the annual dawn service and gunfire breakfasts.

For rural and regional South Australia, they hold special significance, due to the higher proportion of volunteerism and subsequent loss of life that impacted smaller communities more acutely. Outsized numbers of country men and women raised their hands to serve, volunteer and support the fight for freedom. The ultimate sacrifice of thousands of Australian servicemen in the First World War and the many thousands more, including servicewomen, in subsequent conflicts offers us the chance to remember, to commemorate and to give thanks for the quality of life and liberty that we enjoy today.

As well as being a solemn day in towns and cities across the nation, it is also a day to celebrate the great Australian values of courage, of mateship and of resilience. When I was growing up, ANZAC Day for me involved travelling around the Limestone Coast with my grandfather Lindsay, my dad Robin, my brother Toby and sister Lucy, proudly sporting our Wallace tartan and playing the bagpipes in the Highland Pipe Band. I look back on those times with great fondness for the memories we created together and being able to participate in such special services on ANZAC Day.

But as well as commemorating the day that allied forces landed on Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915, I also wish to acknowledge the Battle of Kapyong, which took place during the Korean War on 23 and 24 April in 1951. This battle, while less known than the Gallipoli campaign, was equally significant in the military history of Australia.

The Battle of Kapyong involved the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, along with Canadian and New Zealand forces, and was crucial in halting a massive Chinese offensive. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the bravery and tactical acumen of those troops played a key role in preventing Seoul's recapture by North Korean and Chinese forces.

I was privileged to attend the service on 24 April this year, marking 70 years since the end of the Korean War, in Vansittart Park in Mount Gambier. Thank you to the RSL for your ongoing stewardship of this service, and I especially want to acknowledge Mr Roy Underwood, who is Mount Gambier's last surviving Korean War veteran.

I was also honoured to attend Mount Gambier's ANZAC Day dawn service, along with the Airmen's service that followed, and the ANZAC Day march later that morning. Thank you to Bob Sandow, to Padre Murray Earl, and all the committee members and volunteers who made these events happen.

I am also grateful to all those who represented me at Port MacDonnell and Flagstaff Hill dawn services, as well as the Mount Gambier Boer War memorial service that was held concurrently. Thank you to Blake Lynch, to Neil and Krys Howard, and Simon McMahon for generously standing in for me at those events.

It was wonderful to see so many South Australians attend and pay their respects to our service men and women, those who have served, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We owe these men and women a great debt of gratitude for our modern-day freedoms, and it is important that we always honour their memory.

It gives me great hope that our state and our nation will continue to respect the past, and seek peace in the future. Thank you to the Hon. Mrs Henderson for moving this important motion. Lest we forget.

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (16:32): I rise to speak in support of this motion, and I thank the Hon. Mrs Henderson for bringing this motion that acknowledges our nation's commemoration of ANZAC Day on 25 April 2023. I also indicate that the government supports the Hon. Ms Girolamo's amendment.

The first major deployment of troops as a newly formed nation of 16,000 brave men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915. By the time we withdrew from Gallipoli in December that year, we had suffered over 26,000 casualties and over 8,000 deaths. Our troops then either endured the horrors of trench warfare on the Western Front or fought in the Middle East for the remainder of World War I, until peace was declared at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

Though Australia's population at that time was just under five million, over 416,000 people enlisted. Of those, 156,000 were wounded or taken prisoner, and 60,000 were killed, leaving no community untouched. Since then, Australian Defence Force personnel have participated in campaigns during the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War, the Second Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, among others.

Our participation in these wars throughout our history has had a devastating impact on the injured, the loved ones of those who have served, and the survivors who endured the mental trauma that inevitably accompanies war. We cannot even begin to account for the casualties and accompanying heartbreak that can be attributed to the mental injuries that plagued our veterans long after their tours of duty ended.

Each year, I attend the dawn service on ANZAC Day at the Plympton and Glenelg RSL, and I ensure that I take my two young children with me. This year was a sombre and moving experience, as those present paid tribute to the far too many service men and women who sacrificed their lives in service of our nation. I want to recognise the commitment and sacrifice of all who have served, all those who continue to serve and the families who love and support them. I commend the motion as amended to the house. Lest we forget.

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:34): I rise in support of this motion. ANZAC Day reminds us of the sacrifices our veterans made for our freedoms today. I was honoured to attend the dawn service by the West Croydon and Kilkenny RSL Sub-branch, where I laid a wreath and paid my respects. We are failing our veterans in their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Post-service employment opportunities are challenging to navigate and the recent royal commission exposed flaws within institutions meant to protect veterans.

Red tape hinders the claims system, preventing access to services veterans need. The number of veterans has increased since 2016-17, overwhelming an already strained system. Our veterans suffer from high rates of dementia and PTSD. Over a quarter of male ADF veterans aged 18 or over have mental or behavioural conditions. We must act to improve the outcomes for our veterans by increased funding from state and federal governments, improved employment services and by creating affordable housing options. I urge this house and policymakers to make a difference in the lives of our veterans. They have given us so much and we have given them too little.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:35): I rise on behalf of the Greens to support this motion brought before this place by the Hon. Mrs Henderson. ANZAC Day is a solemn occasion that acknowledges the sacrifices many Australians have made in pursuit of peace. However, as we reflect on their sacrifices we must also acknowledge the devastating impact of war on individuals, families and communities.

This year's commemoration marked the 107th anniversary of the Gallipoli tragedy, where 16,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers, along with allied troops, landed on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The campaign serves as a stark reminder of the atrocity of war. The loss of life and the suffering endured by those who served at Gallipoli is a testament to the destructive power of war and should inspire us all to work towards resolving conflict without resorting to violence.

The role of women within the ANZAC is also often overlooked, but their contributions during the First World War were crucial to the war effort. Close to 3,000 women enlisted and served as nurses on the frontlines. While female representation within the Australian Defence Force has improved since the First World War, women still only make up 20.1 per cent of active military personnel, according to the 2022 annual government defence report. Furthermore, a report done by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2022 on the suicide rates of ADF personnel revealed, unfortunately, ex-serving female ADF personnel are 107 per cent more likely to die by suicide when compared with the Australian population.

It is also important that we acknowledge the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the ANZAC. Under the commonwealth Defence Act 1903, people not substantially of European origin or descent were prevented from enlisting in World War I. This did not of course stop an estimated 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from joining, despite not even being considered Australian citizens at the time.

I know that in previous wars those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served what was not quite our nation were often actually even denied re-entry into this country, having served this country in those wars—an extraordinary situation. Facing discrimination and prejudice, First Nations soldiers made significant contributions to the ANZAC story, and it is important that we remember, too, their contributions and ensure their stories are told and honoured. It is time for truth telling.

The role of animals within the ANZAC is also often disregarded and I thank the member for allowing us the opportunity to reflect on that today as well. Unlike their human counterparts, the animals were not given a choice, and it is important that we remember their invaluable contribution while also acknowledging the suffering and abuse that many endured. Of the 136,000 ANZAC horses sent abroad during the First World War, only one returned home to Australia.

As we commemorate ANZAC bravery on the battlefield, we should also acknowledge the bravery often exhibited by our nation's veterans when those guns stop firing and the conflict has ended. The horrors of war often have an enormous toll not only on the physical wellbeing of soldiers but, of course, on their mental health. A 2018 study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that half of ADF veterans experience a mental health disorder and nearly one-fifth of veterans report post-traumatic stress within five years of leaving the ADF. We owe it to our veterans to honour their service by providing the necessary supports they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Enduring ANZAC bravery was more recently exhibited in the defamation trial involving former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith. The courageous soldiers who came forward against Roberts-Smith have spoken truth to power, embodying the ANZAC spirit. They have served as an inspiration to many Australians about the importance of speaking out against what is wrong and what is unjust. ANZAC Day is an important day for many Australians and New Zealanders and, while we may never fully understand the experience of those who serve, we can continue to honour their memory and work towards a more peaceful and just world. With that, I commend the motion.

The Hon. L.A. HENDERSON (16:40): I thank the Hon. Heidi Girolamo, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, the Hon. Dennis Hood, the Hon. Ben Hood, the Hon. Reggie Martin, the Hon. Sarah Game and the Hon. Tammy Franks for their contributions and their support of this incredibly important motion. The members highlighted a few really key points and I think it is important that I reiterate them now.

The values of mateship and resilience have been furthered developed through the ANZACs and continue to be a key pillar of the values of Australians today. Every year on 25 April, we have the opportunity to pay our respects to the soldiers who served to protect our nation, our values and our freedoms and I think it is important that not only do we acknowledge their sacrifice but even more so we acknowledge the sacrifice of their families. It is a sacrifice that many of us will never have to even contemplate. Today, we honour their memory and we honour their sacrifice and their families' sacrifice. With that, I commend the motion.

Amendment carried; motion as amended passed.