Transcript of joint doorstop interview, Albany
WED 18 APRIL 2012
Subject(s): Anzac Interpretive Centre; Centenary of Anzac, Albany
PM: I’m here today in Albany and I’m joined by Tony Crook, the federal member, the Member for O’Connor, and I’m also joined by Peter Watson, the local state Member for Albany. I’m having a great day here and I’m here for a very important announcement too.
Today Ihave announced that we will make available $5 million to invest in the Albany Interpretive Centre. This will join the $1.5 million investment we’ve already made. Now the purpose of that centre is to remind Australians of the incredible history of this place. This was the place from which, in 1914, the Anzacs set sail to go on the journey which led them to Gallipoli.
So as we move to the Centenary of Anzac, commemorations here and the reminding of the history of this place, will be the start of the commemoration of World War I, but particularly of the commemoration of the Centenary of Anzac.
We’ve had the opportunity to look out across the water, to see the sights, I invite everyone to imagine what that would have looked like in 1914, with 36 ships out there ready to convey, across the world, the soldiers from Australia and New Zealand, who would become known throughout history and throughout the ages as the Anzacs. For those soldiers, this was their last sight of Australia. The last goodbye, the last opportunity to see a fellow Australian face, a civilian who was left behind.
And for too many of those soldiers, those troops who set sail from this place, it was the last time they ever saw Australia, because as we know 8,700 did not return home. So, significant history and a story to be shared. Shared with the people who come and visit Albany in the future, but shared too through an interactive centre with people around the country.
I want to see this history able to be studied by Australians right around the nation, whether it’s schoolchildren in the Northern Territory or whether it’s someone who’s interested in Tasmania, as well as people who choose to travel here to learn about the history. Even just a moment before I met a couple from Newcastle who are on holidays so already people come to study the history of this place and I can imagine them coming in greater numbers.
In addition to the announcement of that $5 million, I have today announced a $300,000 investment so that we can scope what would be necessary to stage a full re-enactment, a full re-enactment of the 36 ships, and maybe that might invite ships from other nations who participated in World War I. I’d like to say thank you very much to Tony Crook for being a very consistent advocate of this project, for bringing it very personally to my attention, and I know the local state member here too, Peter, has been a very strong advocate of this project as well.
Earlier this week in Canberra at the War Memorial, I announced a refurbishment of the World War I galleries of the War Memorial. Today I am here making some announcements about what else will happen to commemorate the Centenary of Anzac. This is the start of a number of announcements to assist our nation to commemorate that remarkable event. In making decisions about this we are being very assisted by the Centenary of Anzac Board, led by Angus Houston.
When we reach that centenary in 2015, I know right around the nation, whether it’s in the smallest, smallest town or our largest cities, Australians will want to participate very meaningfully and very respectfully in that centenary. And being able to visit the Interpretive Centre here, or to learn about it and the history of the Anzacs online, will be part of paying our respects for the Centenary of Anzac.
I’ll go now to Tony, who might want to say a few things.
TONY CROOK: Thanks Prime Minister. Thanks everybody for turning out today. In particular I’d like to formally thank the Prime Minister for attending today and on making the announcement that she’s made. This is a great start to what will be a fantastic interpretive centre, and great recognition for Albany and the significant role that it plays in the Anzac story.
As you’ve outlined today, Albany has a very significant role in the Anzac story, and I’m very proud to be the Member for O’Connor and to be welcoming the Prime Minister here and Warren Snowdon on a couple of occasions as well, who actually promoted this project.
I sincerely hope that I haven’t been a pest to the Prime Minister but I hope that’s my job, and I’m very happy to have advocated for the Albany community for this project, but not so much for the Albany community but for the whole Anzac story.
More and more people are coming together to celebrate Anzac Day, and I’m very pleased to see that Albany will be a very, very significant part of that, so thank you very much.
PM: Okay, I’m happy to take local questions. I will be going to Perth and conducting a full media event on the issues of the day when I get there.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, I may have misunderstood, but I thought I heard (inaudible) say the (inaudible) project was about $8.9 million. Does it mean (inaudible)?
PM: Well I would hope that the Government of Western Australia also considers very seriously making a contribution towards this project, and right throughout the Centenary of Anzac we know that there are many Australian businesses who are also prepared to make funds available because they recognise how important an event this is in the life of our nation. So I would be urging that others also make a contribution - $6.5 million from the Federal Government I think is a very important contribution – and we’d like to see it built on.
JOURNALIST: A lot of the (inaudible) who have been advocating for this talk about it being a world-class facility. Is that how you envision that this centre will be?
PM: Certainly as a world-class facility. I think when you see the plans and the dream about what this could look like, you can get a real sense of the time and trouble and study and research that local people have engaged in to put it together. They’ve got very keenly in their mind’s eye about what it could look like and I think it’s fantastic that all that local work has been done, and I really do look forward to seeing it come to fruition.
For many Australians they wouldn’t be familiar with the story of this place, and they wouldn’t really know about what happened here and how the troops gathered here and how they left from here, what the site looked like. They wouldn’t know about the individual stories than can be told through the interpretive centre so it wouldn’t just be the full picture of the ships, but it would be right down to the individual stories of what happened to that one soldier, what happened to that one nurse. So I think it’ll just be a remarkable way of everybody learning in greater depth about the Anzac story.
JOURNALIST: As far as the interpretive centre – as you’ve mentioned not a lot of people know about (inaudible) do you even think that you could consider including it into the curriculum for schools as well?
PM: Certainly the history of our nation and of our Anzac story is included in school curriculum. We’ve moved to a national curriculum, so kids around the nation are studying high-quality curriculum and one of the things that we wanted to achieve through that was a proper and comprehensive study of history, of our national story, of who we are, of what brought us to this time and this moment, and of course there’s no way of recounting our nation’s history without telling the Anzac story.
One of the things I’d have to say I’m impressed about when you meet with school kids, and I meet a lot of kids as I move around the nation and I go to a lot of schools, I actually think that they are learning more in many ways about the Anzac story than we did when we were at school. I actually think there’s a greater focus on Australian history now than when I was at school.
And I think that’s a tremendous thing, that we’re seeing that focus and that degree of attachment by young people to the Anzac story. And I think you see that every Anzac Day when young people turn out in such remarkable numbers, whether it’s here in Albany, or in Melbourne’s west where my electorate is, or at Gallipoli itself to mark the day.
JOURNALIST: Will more funding be available for the re-enactment of the convoy (inaudible)?
PM: Well the $300,000 is for a scoping study to work out how this could work and what could be done. I mean this is an incredibly big thing to do. I’m not a production events manager, but I’m sure if you spoke to one they would describe to you the difficulties and the need for very comprehensive planning.
To contemplate having 36 ships out there, to contemplate how many people would come, how they’d be catered for, where they’d stand, how they’d get a view, you know, how they would be fed and watered and looked after and all the safety stuff all the rest of it that goes with it. So the $300,000 is to enable that work to be done, and then further consideration will be given.
JOURNALIST: Do you expect that to have a really national focus, have national significance?
PM: I think absolutely. The re-enactment here, I think, would mark the first big event in what would be a commemoration that would last from 2014 all the way through to 2018, but of course with the Centenary of Anzac in 2015 as the most remarked-upon and most focussed-upon event. But I can imagine people wanting to participate in commemorations of all the big events that tell us the story of World War I, the ‘war to end all wars’ as people thought it would be, and to make sure they understood Gallipoli in the context of what came before and what came after.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, a lot of people know Albany’s the last whaling town, does it surprise you that this Anzac story’s not a bigger part of Albany’s identity and also do you think it could form part of the town’s economy?
PM: I guess it doesn’t surprise me, but I would be hoping that through having the interpretive centre here and by having the very real focus that there will be on the 100 years since World War I, and the 100 years since the Anzac legend was born, that there will be a proper focus on Albany and its history and how it played such a big part, so I think that story is going to be much more known by Australians by the end than it is now.
Of course, for the local economy to have visitors come, as you do now to come and see what is already a remarkable part of Australia, but in increased numbers because the interpretive centre is here will be good for the local economy.
JOURNALIST: Do you envisage Albany being the most significant place for the centenary commemorations in 2015?
PM: Look, I think there will be – it’s hard to say the most significant, because depending on your window on these events, different places will be significant to you. I mean there are very, very tiny country towns that you can look at the Honour Board and see how many people died, indeed how many people died from the same family because you see the same surname coming up on the Honour Board and you think about how many sons died from the same family.
So for people who are connected to that history, what happens in that place will be the most significant for them. For the nation overall, of course all eyes will be on Gallipoli in 2015, but I think, you know, to tell the story, to understand it, to understand the start people need to understand what happened here and so this is a very significant part of telling the story.
Okay, thank you very much. Thanks a lot.