Monday, 15 March 2010
Australian War Memorial
Tonight my glass is half-full and half-empty. It is half-full because on Saturday of this week, the 20th, there are two elections taking place, in Tasmania and South Australia, and I am hopeful that the Labor Party will retain government in both. Also next Saturday, 20 March, an exhibition arranged by the Australian War Memorial, with fantastic financial and personal support from Kerry Stokes, will be exhibiting for the first time the Victoria Crosses won in Gallipoli. The Australian War Memorial exhibition will be commencing in Perth, then going to Darwin, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane. This is the first time that such a tour has been undertaken, and it is to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. The name of the exhibition is This company of brave men: the Gallipoli VCs.
I, along with the nation, thank, celebrate and commemorate those who participated in Gallipoli, particularly those that won a Victoria Cross. They were Corporal Alexander Burton, Corporal William Dunstan, Private John Hamilton, Lance Corporal Albert Jacka, Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor, Captain Alfred Shout, Lieutenant William Symons, Second Lieutenant Hugo Throssell and Lieutenant Frederick Tubb. Seven of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded at Gallipoli were for bravery during the Battle of Lone Pine on 6 and 7 August 1915. A total of 97 Australians have received the Victoria Cross. I congratulate the Australian War Memorial and its director, as well as Kerry Stokes for his generous donation of finances for the exhibition, which will tour mainland Australia. That is my glass half-full.
My glass is half-empty, unfortunately, because the exhibition is not going to Tasmania. Nor is the exhibition going to New South Wales, but there is a fundamental difference. Of course, the Australian War Memorial is essentially close at hand to New South Wales—and so too the Hall of Valour, which is now being refurbished for the Victoria Crosses. So the good folk of New South Wales have an opportunity to visit the War Memorial, in that they can get in their car and come and visit Canberra and the memorial itself. But Tasmanians cannot and unfortunately we are not part of the exhibition. I ask the Australian War Memorial to consider its decision. In no way do I wish to be a fly in the ointment in terms of Mr Stokes and his very generous financing of this exhibition, but I would ask the memorial to reconsider a visit to Tasmania.
We acknowledge that no Tasmanian was awarded a VC at Gallipoli, but three who did serve at Gallipoli were awarded the VC in later campaigns. They were Lieutenant Harry Murray of Evandale, Sergeant John Dwyer of Bruny Island and Captain Percy Cherry of Craddock. Indeed, out of 97 VCs awarded to Australians to date, 13 have been won by Tasmanians. Lieutenant Harry Murray of Evandale is the most highly decorated soldier ever to serve in the Australian Army and the most decorated soldier in the Commonwealth for the First World War. So I ask the Australian War Memorial and its director to reconsider the decision. If the refurbishment does take longer than the time allocated, I would seriously ask them to visit Tasmania. We too would love to see this wonderful exhibition. (Time expired)