Transcript of doorstop interview, Gallipoli
WED 25 APRIL 2012
PM: I have been very moved and very honoured this morning to attend the Dawn Service here at Gallipoli. It’s given me an incredible impression about what our Anzacs went through, landing here in the darkness experiencing that start of the light and that start of the warfare which was to come.
This is a place of sorrow and sacrifice for Australians and New Zealanders and for people from so many other countries, particularly our friends in Turkey. Of course in those days we were foes but even in days when we were foes there was a respect between our fighting men and the fighting men of the Turkish nation.
Here I have had the opportunity to feel a little bit what the sense must have been like of that landing. The significance of this place to us as Australians is beyond the military history here, as important as that military history is.
This really marks the time that a fledgling nation got a real sense of itself - when the boys of federation became the men of Gallipoli. When we forged those values and bonds that we prize as Australians: mateship, good humour, endurance, bravery. And the fact that this was a defeat probably means that we forged those values even more strongly, as our diggers endured those values came to the fore.
It’s been a remarkable opportunity to be here, to experience it personally, to feel so moved by it. It has also given me the opportunity to see how we have people from nations around the world, but particularly Australians and New Zealanders come here for this Dawn Service.
And to think about the arrangements that we must make in 2015 for that incredibly important 100 year commemoration of the original Anzac Day.
I am very happy to take questions on Anzac Day matters.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you have mentioned the fact that this is more than a military day. The Centenary is coming up, would you like to see Anzac Day as a wider national recognition for all Australians?
PM: I think the very important thing with Anzac Day is it has organically grown into what it is. It wasn’t forced at the start. We didn’t have Anzac Day created by an Act of Parliament or because a Prime Minister or a Premier had a bright idea.
Anzac Day actually started organically. Organically in Albany and in many, many other places as people came together to commemorate what had happened here. And I think that organic sense of growth has taken us to a new place with Anzac Day.
Where now we see sons and daughters drag mums and dads, and grandmum and grandad, to Dawn Services.
We’ve seen a revival of interest in Anzac Day. We’ve seen that revival of interest from Australians of all heritages and walks of life - migrant Australians, indigenous Australians.
So I think it is already organically growing beyond the original military significance into something even more.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, would you like to see (inaudible)?
PM: Well, many Australians do make the trip and of course, for people there’s all of the logistics and expense of it and the ability to stay out all night and wait for the Dawn Service.
So I don’t think there is any need to really encourage Australians to come. I think so many aspire to get here so many of our young people particularly do get here as part of the rite of passage of taking a gap year or an extended working holiday around the world.
They come to pay their respects and that’s a terrific thing to see.
JOURNALIST: Just back on this stuff in response to Dennis’ question, would you regard Anzac Day now as our most important national day?
PM: I think in terms of the emotional chord it the deepest emotional chord for us. Australia Day is an important day too but I think as an event that stirs the emotion, that means that we get lumps in our throat and tears in our eyes, it’s Anzac Day that has that significance for each of us and for all of us.
JOURNALIST: What do you want to do at Lone Pine?
PM: Well at Lone Pine, once again, we will commemorate what happened. Some of the most intense fighting and some of the greatest loss and some of the most amazing acts of bravery, when you see how many VCs were awarded at Lone Pine.
So I’ll want to get a sense once again of what the landscape is like. That has been a powerful part of this morning for me. Being able to physically be there and see the landscape enables you to feel more of what it must have been like. And I think Lone Pine will have that sense for me too.
JOURNALIST: You’re holding talks tomorrow with the President and Prime Minister of Turkey. Will you be raising any concerns at all about the situation in Turkey?
PM: Look I’ll be having the opportunity tomorrow when I’ll have a press conference before those discussions to address any of those questions, so we’ll just stick to Anzac Day matters today.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you think there needs to be any further formal recognition of Anzac Day, as a day, as the Centenary approaches?
PM: I don’t think there is a need for further formal recognition. I think it is, you know, written into all of us and written into the national calendar. What is important is how individuals mark it. And I very much had the sense as a local Member of Parliament, well before I was in government or Prime Minister, that the interest and connection is growing.
I’ve gone over the years to many local events that have grown in numbers but they’ve particularly dropped in age.
So we’ve seen the original Anzacs leave us. Of course last year we lost our final Anzac, Mr Choules, and named a ship after him in his honour.
But we’ve seen the age drop because so many young people now come. You know, and by young I mean very young. We see 12 year old, 14 year old kids who have insisted to their parents that they go to the Dawn Service in their locality.
So I think that shows that whatever is done formally, actually for individuals it’s meaning more and more.
JOURNALIST: So you would reject, there were some suggestions beforehand that perhaps Anzac Day didn’t represent all Australians, or couldn’t represent all Australians?
PM: I completely reject those suggestions. I think Anzac Day has come to represent the deepest of Australian values for all Australians - for migrant Australians, for indigenous Australians, for Australians from all walks of life.
Thank you very much.