Interview with Tim Wong-See, ABC Great Southern Albany 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

TIM WONG-SEE: A lot of excitement with - today, with day one of the show. It is also Friday, the 11 November and it is Remembrance Day today and there will be services right across the country to mark that. A time of reflection and acknowledgement for anyone who died while serving in wars, conflicts and importantly, as we mentioned the other day, peacekeeping operations. So that's what we remember today. And here in Albany is the Federal Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel, Matt Keogh. Minister, good morning.

MATT KEOGH: Good morning, Tim. Great to be with you.

TIM WONG-SEE: Nice to have you here at the show. You were just looking out of the landscape a moment ago and perhaps having some memories of past Ag Shows that you've been involved in.

MATT KEOGH: Absolutely. So, I'm from Kelmscott, up in Perth. We have the Kelmscott agricultural show, older than the Perth Royal show, I like to remind people. I'm a member of the Ag Society there. And we're just sitting here outside the Log Chop venue and that is one of my favourite events. So I say to everybody in Albany, after you have been to the Remembrance Day ceremony today at 11:00 in the town centre, make sure you come down to the show today, check out the Log Chop and I'm sure there's many other great things on down here as well.

TIM WONG-SEE: Yeah, it's a very impressive site. You are also the member for Burt in Perth, so you've got some connections here, very much in WA, and you've chosen Albany to spend Remembrance Day today. Why was that important to you?

MATT KEOGH: Well, I'm sure as many people here in Albany are very familiar, Albany is a location of great significance because of it being the last point of departure for most of the soldiers who went off to fight in the First World War in Gallipoli and then on in the Western Front. So it is a significant sight in our national history and our national story of conflict, in particular for the First World War. And so it's my absolute honour to be here today, to be commemorating Remembrance Day in Albany.

TIM WONG-SEE: So you'll be going to the National Anzac Centre as well today?

MATT KEOGH: That's right.

TIM WONG-SEE: That's quite a significant part of town and reflecting a bit of what you've spoken about there. A point of discussion has been the entry fee, so it's $22 as one example for adults right now and we have heard from people that it is a barrier to stop them actually going in the doors and seeing that history. I know you've just taken on the portfolio with this recently, but is this something you're aware of, of the locals call for it to be a free entry to this facility?

MATT KEOGH: I am aware of it. Local Upper House member and Minister Alannah MacTiernan raised it with me actually just the other day as an issue. And I'm very happy to hear from the City of Albany and the RSL if they have proposals about what they would like to see happen there. In terms of the ticket pricing or free entry, I haven't had any formal submission from them or anything of that nature at this stage. But if they've got those, and I'm always happy to look at them.

TIM WONG-SEE: Are you privy to any form of discussions that were happening in the previous government about this at a Federal level, about making this happen?

MATT KEOGH: I'm aware that something was brought to the previous government, but one of the strict rules for any new government coming in is we don't get access to all of their old papers. So if submissions were made to them, then I'd need to have them made afresh to me and I'm always happy to look at those.

TIM WONG-SEE: Okay, so they centre gets 61,000 visitors a year as an idea of how many people are going inside. What would you need to see as a Minister to actually have a strong enough case to put funding towards that, to make that happen?

MATT KEOGH: Look, without seeing all of the details, it's difficult to be able to sort of assess that. But I think one of the things from a Federal Government point of view is that there was a significant contribution to the building of the centre in the first place. That was always seen as what the Federal Government would be bringing to the table at that time. We have the main national memorial, with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra being the focal point of national commemoration. And so that's always been the Commonwealth Government's responsibility for maintenance and ongoing operation of that memorial and memorials around the country. Of course, nearly every country, town, many suburbs and of course State capitals have all got their own memorials and centres and different ways of commemorating, and that's always been a responsibility for those areas specifically. But if there's a particular case around Albany than I'm always happy to take that on board if the city wants to bring it forward.

TIM WONG-SEE: And because it's Albany and because of the historical significance, I'm sure there are many examples across the country of Anzac centres and them also maybe making similar calls. You don't feel like you have to say yes because you're an Albany Minister, but do you think there is a particular emphasis there because of this part of the country and what it represents? If you were to be - if you look at a few cases around the country of people asking similar things yeah.

MATT KEOGH: Yeah Tim, I think you've done something quite important there, that there is absolutely a uniqueness and a significance here to Albany, but it is not unique across the country. There are other places that obviously have their own great significance and importance to our wartime story and to the story of our fallen and those that have served our nation. And so it's not the only place making a call on government either for financial support and contribution to ongoing operation and we need to look at all of those. We can't just look at any one.

TIM WONG-SEE: Matt Keogh here, Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence personnel on ABC Great Southern. On this Remembrance Day.


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