I’m honoured to be here today at this ceremony to mark Remembrance Day 2011 – the 11th of the 11th of two thousand and eleven – on this 93rd anniversary of the end of the First World War.
As Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, representing the federal government, I join with you today in remembering Australia’s sacrifice in the Great War, the war in which Australia suffered the greatest number of casualties of any of our wars – 59,000 dead, 167,000 wounded, all volunteers and all from a population of 4 million.
The achievements of the First AIF have become the standard by which all subsequent Australian military campaigns have been measured, and the 2nd Division played an outstanding role in the great achievements of the First AIF. Under the command of Lieutenant General James Legge, 2 Div fought at Gallipoli, at Poziers, Bullecourt and Ypres, and in the decisive battles at Hamel and on the Hindenburg Line in 1918. You should be very proud of that heritage.
In 1940 2 Div was reformed as a militia division, commanded by Major General Herbert Lloyd. The militia units were intended for home defence, and 2 Div was based first in NSW and later in WA, but some elements of the Division served with distinction in New Guinea during the emergency of 1942 and 1943.
In my current job I’ve had a lot to do with the men and women of the Army Reserve, and I’ve seen that they are the worthy heirs of the men of the First AIF. They are motivated by the same high ideals of service – of service to Australia, and service to the people of the countries where they are deployed.
Since I’ve been Parliamentary Secretary, I have twice visited our Reserve units in the Solomons and seen the excellent work they are doing there assisting our neighbours to restore stability to their country. In doing so, they are helping to reinforce our own regional security. Soon I expect to visit East Timor to see the great work our Reservists are doing there. I’ve also been able to visit Reserve units around Australia. Everywhere I’ve been impressed by the skill, enthusiasm and professionalism of our Reserve forces.
As we have been sharply reminded in recent weeks, the work of the ADF is difficult and dangerous. In September, 8 Brigade suffered the loss of Craftsman Beau Pridue of the 8th Combat Service Support Battalion, who was killed in a vehicle accident while serving in as part of Operation ASTUTE in East Timor. He was typical of the talented and enthusiastic young Australians who join the Army Reserve. He died serving Australia, but also serving the people of East Timor as they rebuild their country. Today on Remembrance Day, we remember his service and sacrifice, and we think of his family, friends and comrades.
I’m grateful for this opportunity to join you here today in remembering the fallen of the Great War and all subsequent wars. Lest we forget.