ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
FRIDAY, 24 APRIL 2015
SUBJECT/S: Centenary of ANZACs
MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: Bill Shorten, Good morning.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.
ROWLAND: This is your first visit to Gallipoli. What is your first impression?
SHORTEN: It’s incredibly moving. When you visit the cemeteries, when you see the stones, the head stones, and you see how young all these men were and how far away from home, it takes your breath away.
ROWLAND: And looking back at the cliffs, do you get the same sense that everybody gets when they get here, that the sheer impossibility of the task on that fateful morning?
SHORTEN: When I drove in here, and you look up at the steepness of the cliffs, you just wonder how on earth could they have ever scaled them. And when they're being shot at, it's in the early morning, it is beyond imagination.
ROWLAND: Why do you think the Anzac legacy has endured for 100 years?
SHORTNE: Over 8,000 young Australian men died here between April the 25th and the evacuation in December. They were very young men. But the nation that they were soldiers of was even younger. In the total European history of our country, it was the most traumatic event, Anzac and World War 1 - 60,000 young Australians never came home and hundreds of thousands more had physical and indeed, mental injuries of that trauma.
ROWLAND: It was such a bitter 8-months, it was a carnage house for both sides yet, 100 years on there is a deep sense of mutual affection between Australia and Turkey, you get that sense as we have for the past week on the streets speaking to average Turks. You've probably seen the Ataturk memorial there remembering your son also become our sons as well. Why have we got to that situation and do you find that remarkable given what happened here 100 years ago?
SHORTEN: It is remarkable, the degree of respect. The history books will show you there was respect then and there's friendship and respect now. Again, though, I wonder how having come through such a terrible conflict people were able to move on. But there's no doubt that the relationship between and respect of Turks and Australians is very strong.
ROWLAND: There's a lot of debate in some quarters at the moment as there is with every Anzac Day whether Anzac Day should be seen as the birth of the nation. Where do you stand on that? Is too much emphasis placed on this event, this battle compared the other battles in World War I and in Australia's history?
SHORTEN: I don't think the one particular point in time can claim to be the birth of everything. But if there is one particular event which defines the new nation, it would have has been Anzac and then our contribution in World War I. There was, as I said, 60,000 young men never came home but our country was even newer still than them. Of all the lives that were changed of the people who came home, this war and this conflict, so much must have been altered because of it. I was at a family Christening and there was an older uncle by marriage and I was saying I was coming to Gallipoli and he told a story I hadn't been aware of until barely last weekend. He said that his mother, his mother lost two older brothers at Gallipoli and I didn't know this. And he said that the family never recovered. His mother, who was younger than the two brothers, and another younger sister, were fostered out. That the parents of the two men who were killed here, the marriage broke down. He said it had a dreadful toll.
ROWLAND: One of the responsibilities of any Prime Minister is to keep Australia safe and in doing so sometimes send young men and women into harm's way. Looking around at the grave stones here, the hundreds of Australians buried here and as someone who wants to be Prime Minister, does this moment and space give you pause to reflect on that responsibility?
SHORTEN: Yes it does. I pray, and I believe that current generations of Australians will never have to go through what this generation went through. It does make you reflect, though, the importance of understanding what is happening in the world around you and the situation and the politics. But I think that Anzac in 1915, Anzac Cove, the landing here, I think that is unique and I just, again, it goes back to this sense of how could this conflict have come to be? And can we make sure in the future, we never again have to be in a situation where this scale of sacrifice is called upon.
ROWLAND: Bill Shorten, thank you for your time.
BILL SHORTEN: Thanks Michael.
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