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One person who knows about service extremely well is Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds. Good Morning. Your family has a proud military history – your grandfather served in Gallipoli, you were in the Reserves. How are you feeling this morning about the way Australians have responded to this very different Anzac Day?
Good morning Matt and Mon. In short, I am incredibly proud to be an Australian today. Anzac Day is always a day that reminds us how united we are as a country, how proud we are as people, and also how resilient we are. Watching some of the services this morning and seeing people out on the streets, saying thank you to the two million men and women who have served in our Australian Defence Force’s, and also saying thank you to the 102,000 Australians who have made the ultimate sacrifice. As the Minister for Defence and a service woman, and as a family member of a Gallipoli veteran, I am incredibly proud of who we are as a nation today.
And with good reason. Minister, the Australian Defence Force is still engaged overseas. Has that danger changed at all because of COVID-19?
Well certainly the pandemic has not made our region and the world any safer. We have thousands of men and women who are away from their families today, on Anzac Day, serving our nation. 2,200 are serving across our nation here in Australia on Operation COVID-19 ASSIST. But we’ve also got thousands of men and women who are deployed overseas on operations and exercises. So today, we’ve got HMAS Toowoomba in the Gulf of Oman, and they will be commemorating the service of their mates on the flight deck of HMAS Toowoomba, of course, socially distancing.
Our troops in the Middle East are also finding new ways to commemorate service. They will be gathering in smaller groups around pit fires. So service is service and like everyone else, our service personnel are finding new ways to commemorate today.
Minister, today’s changes to Anzac Day commemorations have largely featured young people. They’ve embraced driveway services, played instruments, become heavily involved online. Do you think the coronavirus restrictions might also have a bright side in generating new interest among younger people in Australia?
Well that’s a good point Matt. It is just wonderful to see how people are finding new ways to commemorate. For me, it’s not so much how we commemorate, it is the fact that we are commemorating that service. It is bringing communities together, it is bringing streets together, and it is reminding the next generation that while our nation was born out of peace not war, our history has always been defined by wars. Our service personnel fighting for our own freedoms, and also for the freedom of others. As they are still doing today. So thank you to all Australians who have come out to support our service men and women, but also can I just make the point, that it is not just our service men and women we are thanking today. It is also the families, because behind every single one of those two million service men and women, they were loved, they are loved by families who are separated from them today. So I say thank you to the families who have, and continue to support and sacrifice, in service of our nation as well.
Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds, thank you so much for your time today.