April 25, 2022 Josh Burns MP

ANZAC Day 2022 Speech

Check against delivery.

 

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, the Bunarong people of the Kulin nation, and offer my respects to their elders past and present.

I also acknowledge the First Nations people who served in Australia’s defence forces. In WW1, roughly 1000 indigenous people volunteered for the war effort despite not even having the right to vote in Australia.

I acknowledge all the veterans here today and thank them for their service. I also acknowledge the family members of veterans and veterans who are no longer with us. For we gather today to honour the service to our country, from Gallipoli, more than 100 years ago, and for every conflict since.

To my Parliamentary colleagues, Mayor and Councillors and to all locals who have joined us today, thank you for coming and paying your respects.

Port Melbourne is an important site of remembrance on ANZAC Day, because it was from these shores that the men of the First AIF left Australia, destined for four years of service at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

I also take this opportunity to mention that is the first Port Melbourne ANZAC Day for many years on which we meet without our friend and former Member for Albert Park Bunna Walsh, who passed away last month. Bunna gave decades of service to this community, as a union leader, member of Parliament, minister, and was one of the original organisers of Port Melbourne’s ANZAC Day commemoration.  

After two years of the COVID pandemic, we can now return to ANZAC Day normality. I want to thank the RSL and other veterans’ organisations who supported our veterans during the lockdowns. I also want to thank all the healthcare workers who protected and cared for our veterans during the pandemic.

Last year we saw the sad end of the war in Afghanistan. Today we should remember the 41 Australians who gave their lives during the Afghanistan conflict and the 261 who were wounded. Many of them are still living with the physical and mental scars of that war. Our duty as a community is to honour and support our veterans returning home from Afghanistan.

We should also remember the many Afghans who worked with the Australian forces in Afghanistan and whose lives are now in danger under the Taliban regime. We have a duty to help them. Like many other MPs, I have worked to assist some of them come to Australia. Our government needs to do more to help them start new lives in this country.

Australia’s latest military involvement does not involve our troops but it is by no means less important. Sadly, we meet today while a new and horrible war is being waged against Ukraine. In Canberra we have a bipartisan policy in support of the people of Ukraine. Australia is helping Ukraine’s fight financially, diplomatically and militarily.

In Parliament we heard President Zelensky’s call for more military aid, including the dispatch of our excellent Bushmaster armoured vehicles made in Victoria. Those vehicles are now in Ukraine.

As well as sending our military aid, Australia should be imposing the strongest possible sanctions on Russia and on Mr Putin.

In our local community there are many people of Russian and Ukrainian heritage. I know that they are deeply distressed by what is happening in Ukraine. Some of them are worried about family members who may be at risk. Millions of Ukrainians have been made refugees.

Finally, let me say that, we meet today in the middle of a federal election campaign. I do not say that to make a partisan point.

As we look at the world around us, Australians should be grateful that we are living in a country where we can choose our own government in free elections, without the threat of violence.

We thank past and present generations of Australian men and women who have served in our defence forces and fought to keep this country free.

For, as we decide the shape of our future through our great democratic traditions, we acknowledge the men and women of our defence forces. We remember those who made great sacrifices for our country and our democracy – for none of this, in this great country of ours, would be possible without their sacrifices. Thank you very much.

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    Josh Burns MP respectfully acknowledges the past and present traditional owners of the land of the Indigenous people, the traditional custodians of this land, and respect their culture and identity which has been bound up with the land and sea for generations.
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