For over a century, Australia’s Defence personnel have contributed to every major conflict, fighting for our freedoms and values. From the Boer War, to our troops still serving around the world, Australian servicemen and women have become world renowned for their bravery, humanity, sacrifice and skill.
In 2017, we continue to mark the century of service and sacrifice of the First World War. In particular, The Third Battle of Ypres, which was the major Flanders offensive of 1917. Australian Divisions participated in the battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and the First Battle of Passchendaele. Over 38,000 Australian casualties were incurred in this offensive. We also remember the Charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba a century ago – a strategic victory that has become the stuff of legend as a symbol of Aussie bravery and skill in battle.
This year also commemorates the 75th anniversary of some major events in the Second World War. We must never forget the tragic loss of life during the bombing of Darwin and the fall of Singapore and Malaya, but also the decisive contribution of our troops to the battle of the Coral Sea, Milne Way, Midway, Kokoda, Buna and Gona.
In 2009 I had the privilege to lead a group of young people from our local surf clubs in the first of our Mateship Treks along the Kokoda trail. Together we saw the places where the historic battles along the trail were fought, remembered the sacrifice of those who served and paid our tribute.
Trekking Kokoda has become a right of passage now for many Australians seeking to understand and honour those who have given us the Australia we share today.
All those who have trekked will know the breathtaking memorial at Isurava where four pillars stand overlooking the plains below. On those four pillars are inscribed the words courage, mateship, endurance and sacrifice. It is a fitting testimony to both the character and achievements of all those who have served in our name.
This ANZAC Day I encourage you and your family to attend one of the five local Dawn Services being held across the St George and Sutherland Shire area to commemorate the service and sacrifice of all Australians who have served and continue to serve our country with distinction and honour.
The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Federal Member for Cook