I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we gather today, the Jagera and Yugambeh peoples.

I pay my respects to elders, past, present and emerging, and I especially pay my respects to those indigenous members of our Defence Forces.

We talk about the First World War as being the moment Australia ‘came of age’.

The moment when, for the first time, we stood up on the world stage as a mature nation in our own right.

But there is also something more to this story that speaks more deeply to who we are.

This is the moment in time when we first stood next to our allies as equals, and in doing so we declared something intrinsic to who we are as a nation.

As a nation, we believe we all are equal, and we place that value at the core of everything we do.

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Here in Australia, we believe that if you’re rich or famous, you’re still just like the rest of us.

We’re not impressed by wealth or power.

We’re far more interested in whether you’re fair, honest, and loyal.

And like we did with our allies in the First World War, we will stand up beside you as equals, proud of who we are, and ready to assist where we can.

If you’re not rich or powerful – if you’re poor, or disadvantaged – we believe you also are equal, and deserve a fair go.

So we, as Australians, will reach out and give you a hand up.

Because as anyone who has served in the Australian Defence Forces can tell you, we are only ever as strong as the weakest among us.

And we can never claim victory if we leave people behind.

Through all the stories of war brought back by our men and women in uniform runs a common theme – that when we stand together in times of great hardship, it doesn’t matter who is standing beside you.

Whether Australian or New Zealander, men or women, our First Nations peoples or those who’ve come across the seas.

What matters is that they are standing beside you.

We pay tribute today to the ultimate sacrifice made by members of our defence forces in the protection of our nation, but we must also remember that our serving members make sacrifices every day.

To serve as a member of our Defence Forces means giving up a comfortable life in the suburbs, building long friendships with neighbours and settling in to a community. 

At any time, the men and women who put on the uniforms of our Army, our Navy, and our Air Force can be called away to fight for Australia, with all the possibilities that entails.

These men and women put our country, our community, and our freedom before themselves.

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As Australians, we thank them for their sacrifice, and collectively we have an obligation to continue to fight for the values they fought for and still represent every day.

Whilst Gallipoli was a bitter defeat as a wartime battle, it can be considered a victory for the Australian way - if what it teaches us and teaches our kids is that we are all equals.

That we stand together when times are tough, and that we don't leave people behind.

 

Speech given by Hon Mick de Brenni MP on Anzac Day 2017