Interview with Gareth Parker, 6PR Perth Breakfast

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The Hon Matt Keogh MP

Minister for Defence Personnel

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

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Stephanie Mathews on 0407 034 485

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11 November 2022

GARETH PARKER: Down in Albany today at the National Anzac Centre is the Minister for Veterans Affairs, Matt Keogh. Matt, good morning.

MATT KEOGH: Good morning, Gareth.

GARETH PARKER: You are down in Albany at the National Anzac Centre. What's it like down there this morning?

MATT KEOGH: So the clouds are clearing. Hopefully, we'll get a dry day for the memorial this morning. And obviously, Albany very significant location for today's Remembrance Day ceremony.

GARETH PARKER: Yeah, 104 years since the Armistice that ended First World War. What does it mean to the country? What does it mean to the world?

MATT KEOGH: Well, it was the end of the Great War, as they called it then, and since then we've had 103,000 Australians give their life and service for our country. So as an opportunity for us to come together as a nation, to commemorate their sacrifice, as well as all of those that have served all the way up to the most recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's important that we as a nation, commemorate that service and thank those people that have made that sacrifice and also acknowledge the sacrifice of their families as well.

GARETH PARKER: What have veterans tell you about the importance of this day, Matt?

MATT KEOGH: What I hear from veterans is it's an opportunity for them not just to come together and see each other and share their stories and experience, but an opportunity for them to be acknowledged by the nation, to be seen as people that have served, as people that have put themselves in harm's way on behalf of our nation, a nation that is grateful for that service and to be acknowledged for that. It's not about glorifying battle, it's about acknowledging the people as humans that have put themselves in harm's way on our behalf.

GARETH PARKER: It was the war to end all wars, wasn't it? The Great War. It was supposed to be, of course, Europe and the world, the whole world went through again just a couple of decades hence with World War II, and sadly, we have seen Europe in flames again with war. What are the lessons and why have we struggled to learn them? Is this just human nature, do you think? Or is there, is there perhaps even more urgency this year to Remembrance Day, given the global context?

MATT KEOGH: Well, Gareth, as you say, Armistice at the end of the First World War, which we commemorate with Remembrance Day, 2022 is also 80 years since the battle for Australia in the Second World War, where we saw it reach our own shores. 75 years of Australia's involvement in peacekeeping, we were there for the very first peacekeeping operation and have been involved in peacekeeping every year since. And it's 50 years this year since the end of National Service. And as I mentioned, we've just wrapped up our engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. So Australia has been involved in conflict for a very long time and it's important we continue to commemorate that. And I think Australia's involvement, if you look at it, has largely been not just about defending Australia and its interests, but also about trying to produce a safer and more peaceful world, looking after those that have had bad actors act against them. And that's what we've seen in Ukraine. It's why we as a nation have supported Ukraine by providing them with equipment so that they can defend themselves, their sovereign integrity, their borders, which is so important and something that Australia stands for, not just in our region but around the world.

GARETH PARKER: Those 103,000 Australians who have lost their lives in the service of their nation that you mentioned. Many of their ancestors, or I guess their families have gone back to some of those battlefields over the years. And I would love to hear from listeners this morning if you've ever done a battlefield tour, where did you go and what did you learn? Give me a call about that. But we've had a couple of years of no international travel because of COVID. Next year on Anzac Day, both Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux the official services, places you would anticipate would be a very highly sought after Minister.

MATT KEOGH: We absolutely hope so and people haven't been able to travel to these locations in any great number because of COVID in the last few years. And from today, tickets are now available for people who wish to attend the services at Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux. There's no cost of the tickets but it is important that we have a picture of who will be attending so that we can manage those numbers next year and people can log on at to register for their tickets to be going along to those commemorations.

GARETH PARKER: Well, it will be another significant day today, of course, here in Perth the intersections will go still. The buglers will play at the 11th hour on this 11th day of the 11th month. Minister, you will be down in Albany and I'm sure it'll be an appropriately marked occasion at the National Anzac Centre down there as well. So we appreciate your time on 6PR Breakfast this morning. The Veterans Affairs Minister Matt Keogh.


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