Bill's Speeches



Good morning.

Distinguished guests, valued coalition partners, men and women of the Australian Defence Forces. It is a privilege for me and my parliamentary colleagues to spend Anzac Day Dawn with you here in Kabul.

And I want to thank the men and women of the ADF for everything that you do. I've served in our national Parliament for 10 years now, and you can ask anyone in that building, they will tell you that one of the greatest privileges of public life is to watch and witness the men and women of the ADF.

I understand, we all understand, that privilege comes with an obligation on our part to back you up.

Not just on such an important morning with words of praise and thanks, not just with a visit, but with 365-day consistent support. Making sure, for example, that your families have nothing to worry about while you are here doing what you have been trained to do.

And when you and your comrades return home, making sure that they are supported and you are supported for whatever comes next, however long it takes.

On this, one of our most important national days, a lot of high-minded sentiment is spoken. Powerful words are expressed.

Duty. Honour. Courage. Freedom. Sacrifice

But what I want to tell you is that standing here in the early dawn, in the shadow of the mountains around Kabul, these words take on a new meaning.

You are not talking these words. You are living these words.

Back home in Australia, people will be paying tribute to the Anzac tradition, but over here you are adding to it. You are writing our next chapter, you are giving new meaning to Anzac.

Today around our marvellous country people will be gathered at monuments and memorials, you know them, you can see them in your mind's eye.

Those humble white stone obelisks on the coast, beneath the shade of those long avenues of honour leading into country towns, at our grand national places of remembrance - the Shrine, the Cenotaph, and the Australian War Memorial.

But here your monuments are all around you.

  • The Taliban gone from power, not where they either wanted to be or expected to be.
  • Global terrorists denied a national stronghold.
  • Life expectancy up.
  • Girls going to school, people going to work, families with the hope of just living their lives.

Your monuments are 3000 cadets who've graduated from the National Army Officer Academy, people who will be better soldiers because they've learned from the best of the best.

Today millions of Australians will pause at one time or another, at the going down of the sun and in the morning, to repeat our nation's oldest promise: Lest We Forget.

We say ‘Lest We Forget’ out of respect for your 41 brothers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, for the countless more who've returned home with serious injuries.

We say ‘Lest We Forget’ to honour all of those Australians who've served our nation in war and to keep the peace.

And we say ‘Lest We Forget’ so our nation pauses to think of  you, remembers the debt we owe you and your loved ones, while you are here and when you return home safely.

You are the best of Australia. You make us all proud. Thank you very much for everything you do.

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