Bill's Transcripts

Radio: ABC 774 - Centenary of ANZACS



ABC 774




SUBJECT/S: Centenary of ANZACS


RICHARD STUBBS: And we welcome the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, welcome.




STUBBS: We’re just before you get to play a role in the Lone Pine Memorial this is a particularly and uniquely Australian battle and such a bloody battle at Lone Pine.


SHORTEN: It is so far from home and trying to imagine a hundred years ago to today all these young men so far from home engaged in this battle and this gruesome struggle, it is impossible to imagine what they we’re thinking at that time.


STUBBS: It is a gruesome battle too, that’s exactly the right words there. I don’t know if you we’re aware the causalities at Lone Pine were unique in World War One because they were mainly hand to hand, four days of hand to hand in the trenches, terrifying. This is obviously a big event for you as an Australian, as it is for all Australians, what were you thinking about when you were coming to Gallipoli?


SHORTEN: Well, all sorts of different things. I’m interested in military history so the tactics of the battle. As an Australian I’m interested in the young men here were not as young as the nation itself so it’s about our identity. But at a very personal level when you travel around here and then you go back to all our country towns and our RSLs and you see the honour board of Australians who died you just wonder what would have all these people been able to contribute if they hadn’t died here? What did we lose forever? And we’ve got no way of ever finding out the answer to that question, that’s probably what hits me most.


STUBBS: I must say I think about something similar, I’ve become now often thinking about the inter-war years. How did a nation that was so grief stricken after World War One ever go forward? If you lose a family member you don’t feel like going to work, you don’t feel like doing anything. What’s it like for a whole nation who feels that because as you rightly point, out all of Australia was affected in World War One.


SHORTEN: I have never known necessarily as much about all my family what they did or didn’t do in World War One or World War Two. But by coincidence upon coincidence I was at a family christening a week ago and there was an older bloke there, he’s a relative of a relative, and I said I was going to Gallipoli and he told me something I’d never known about that part of the family. His mother was the youngest in her family and she had two older brothers, one who died within the first days or weeks of Gallipoli here and the other brother died one week before the evacuation at Gallipoli and that in itself’s amazing and remarkable.


But what he explained to me was that it destroyed two generations of his family because there were two older brothers, I think, they died. The two younger sisters, including this chaps mother, were fostered out because the parents of both this chaps mother and the two young men who died here at Gallipoli the marriage didn’t survive the grief. The repercussions in this family were exactly what you’re saying. Two generations –


STUBBS: And that’s something we’ve talked about it in all our broadcasts, this isn’t ancient history, this is living history. The repercussions of what happened to the families with their loss still echo in friends of mine and their families and I’ve got to say in all the Turkish families too. We’ve spoken to so many Turkish people and one of the things, if we lost so much in Gallipoli, one of the things we gained was an amazing friendship. I’ve been trying to think of another example where two nations who didn’t know anything about each other went to war and then became better friends. The Turks are so warm towards Australians I find it breathtaking.


SHORTEN: It shows you that people can heal and that nations can heal. I think we have more recently in our mind how Australia and Japan has become reconciled after the Second World War and the terrible things that happened in that war. But you’re right in this earlier generation many of these young men who came here vaguely might have heard of the Ottoman Empire, they had no idea of Turkey or the Turks and I’m sure the same went for the Turks about Australia.




SHORTEN: But when you drive down from Istanbul through the peninsula what you see here of the Turkish villages are, and this is now in 2015, they’re still herding in some cases sheep, this is their homes. So young Australian men can here for a sense of obligation to King and country, perhaps a sense of adventure but this was also someone’s home and the Turks paid a huge price, as did so many people around the world in that First World War.


STUBBS: I won’t keep you any longer, you go off and do what you have to do, thank you and I can’t say enjoy the time here but I can say I hope it’s as powerful as it is for everyone every Australian I think who visits, I hope you take away that as well and thank you for your time.


SHORTEN: Thank you, this is a most inspirational thing and something else which you’ve got the sense of being here is how many Australians are here connecting with their past. They’re proud, this is really moving for all the Australians who are here and no doubt the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Australians at ceremonies all over Australia.