PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 11368


Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 22/04/1999

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 11368

Subjects: Funding for Nurses'Memorial


Well thank you very much Rusty to Elisabeth Perciville to the other

very special and distinguished and honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is appropriate as we approach ANZAC Day 1999 to take a few opportunities

to honour those people who have made such a remarkable contribution

to producing Australia of 1999 which is without fear as a free and

open and democratic society. I had the special opportunity in Western

Australia only yesterday to present to eight survivors of World War

I the first of the eightieth anniversary commemorative medals of which

the government has decided to strike to honour those veterans of World

War I who survived to see armistice day 1998 the eightieth anniversary

of the end of World War I.

Here on the other side of Australia in Sydney, today, I have the opportunity

on behalf of the Australian Government and on behalf of the Australian

people to pay special tribute to a special and remarkable band of

Australian women who endured in so many theatres of war the privation,

the suffering, the death and all of the heartache and all of the toil

involved in caring for the wounded and the dying amongst Australian

service personnel in all theatres of war.

Starting with their contribution for the first time in the South African

War through the first World War through World War II and through the

subsequent conflicts in which Australia has been involved, nurses

have been at the forefront of the effort in defending our country

and the greatest tributes that have been paid to them of course have

been paid to them by the service men themselves who were cared for,

whose lives were saved and whose lives were put together again by

their loving care and attention.

Part of the debt that we owe to the men and women who defended this

country is a special debt to those nurses of Australia who made such

a magnificent contribution in all of the wars in which Australians

have been involved. Earlier this week the marvelous ABC TV documentary

Sisters in Arms told the work of service nurses during conflicts

in which Australia has been involved. That particular program which

interviewed several of the people who are here today told some wonderful

stories of their heroism and it was a wonderful reminder to the current

generation of Australians just how much we owe to that remarkable

group of men and women who gave so much in the two world conflicts

and in Korea and in Vietnam.

Just as I encouraged the audience in Western Australia yesterday to

think that, as children in Australian schools are taught Simpson and

his donkey, to learn some of the stories surrounding that remarkable

group of men who comprised amongst the eight of them more than eight

hundred years of cumulative life experiences so can we never forget

the courage and compassion of survivors like Sister Vivienne Bullwinkle,

the only survivor of the Banker Island Massacre in World War II and

Sister Nell Savage, the only survivor of the sinking of the hospital

ship Centar in World War II as well as those who were taken

as prisoners of war.

The nurses of Australia have contributed important and never to be

forgotten chapters to the history of this country in war. Their contribution

was selfless their dedication was unlimited and the debt that we owe

to them was equal to the debt that we owe to those people we owe to

those on the fighting front. And their contribution and their spirit

illumines in a very special way the ANZAC spirit and the ANZAC tradition.

The Government, as you know, announced with the great help of the

various nursing associations, the dedication, hopefully later this

year, of a special nurse's memorial in Canberra. And I am announcing

today a further contribution, from the Federal Government, of $500,000

towards the cost of completing, erecting and dedicating the memorial.

We hope that that will occur in October of this year and I want to

particularly thank all of those people who have been involved in it.

I want to congratulate Elizabeth Percival who is here today, the Executive

Director of the Royal College of Nursing Australia, who agreed to

chair the memorial management committee, Ita Buttrose, who chaired

the fundraising committee, as well as all those involved in the memorial

project for their magnificent efforts in arriving where we are at

present. The contributions made by various sub branches and elements

of the RSL, by state governments and other veterans' groups have

been very welcome. The Commonwealth Government made an initial contribution

of $100,000 and the further contribution of $500,000 that I announced

today will, I hope, make and important further contribution towards

the successful billing of the appeal target and of the completion,

the dedication and the opening of the memorial.

Memorials are an important expression of how any nation or any group

of people feels about a section of its community. We have many memorials

in Canberra, far and away the most moving, the most memorable and

those that are most evocative of the history of our country are those

that are dedicated to the contribution of the men and women who defended

this country in war. And the nurses memorial, when it is opened, will

take its place alongside the War Memorial, alongside the special memorials

to our conflicts in Vietnam and elsewhere and the other special memorials

that mark the contribution of men and women in theatres of war. Can

I say to those representatives of the Nurses of Australia who are

here today, that your nation is forever in your debt, your nation

is grateful for what you did, your nation admires and respects and

will always remember the risks you took, the contribution you made,

the relief of suffering that you afforded. The memorial that will

be opened in October, will I hope will be a fitting and important

reminder to the entire nation and particularly to those that are young

who visit Canberra of just how important the role that you all played

at very perilous and very critical times in the history of Australia.

Thank you very much.


Transcript 11368