Television interview, Sky News

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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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27 July 2023

SUBJECTS: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s New Zealand War Memorial Visit, Korean War Commemorations in ROK

LAURA JAYES, HOST: Prime Ministers Anthony Albanese and Chris Hipkins have laid a wreath at New Zealand's War Memorial in Wellington to commemorate 70 years since the end of the Korean War. The leaders paid their respects before a stroll through downtown Wellington. Anthony Albanese is in New Zealand for the annual Leaders' talks with his Kiwi counterpart. He'll return to Brisbane today after a meeting with New Zealand's Opposition Leader this morning. Commemorations will also get underway shortly in Seoul, where the service and sacrifice of Australian veterans will be highlighted.

Joining me live now is Veterans’ Affairs Minister Matt Keogh. Thanks so much for your time, thanks for joining us.


LAURA JAYES: First of all, how will Australians be remembered? What was their role in this war?

MINISTER KEOGH: So, today we have several commemoration ceremonies with the United Nations, with the Republic of Korea, and indeed an Australia-specific ceremony as well. And Australians should be remembered for being the second country to put their hand up, volunteering to support South Korea in its absolute time of need. It had been completely decimated by the North. Countries around the world rallied to defend its sovereign integrity and were successful in doing that. And what veterans that have come here as part of these commemorations have all observed is how worth their efforts were, seeing the success of South Korea over the last 70 years – its prosperity, its growth, and the modern country that it has become compared to the country that they left in 1953.

LAURA JAYES: So, what is happening today in terms of commemorations in Seoul?

MINISTER KEOGH: So, last night we had a large formal dinner hosted by my counterpart, the Korean Minister for Patriots and Veterans’ Affairs, really fating the 65 veterans that have come here as part of the commemorations from 21 different countries. And then today, there will be wreath-laying ceremonies at the UN-Korea Cemetery, both as a UN event as well as a Korean event, and a separate Australian event with the Australian veterans’ community commemorating their lost colleagues. And there are a number of, still, Australians that are missing in action that we continue to work with the Korean Government to search for, if we can. But of course, as you'd appreciate, a number of them are on the other side of the border, which makes that a lot more difficult.

But the President of South Korea will be hosting a major commemoration service this afternoon, and with not just the traditional sort of commemorations that we see with wreath laying, but also a celebration of everything that South Korea has become, and a real celebration of the veterans themselves from all the different countries that participated, thanking them. These veterans - Australians, Americans, the UK, Canada, so many different countries, are literal heroes here in South Korea. South Korea faced an existential threat in the early 1950s and the work of our veterans, as well as those of the 22 other countries, really does make them heroes in the eyes of South Koreans.

LAURA JAYES: Certainly does. Minister, thank you for your time.

MINISTER KEOGH: Thanks, Laura.

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