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Transcript 41735

Remarks at Launch of The Last Post: Ceremony of Love, Loss and Remembrance

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 15/08/2018

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 41735

Location: Parliament House, ACT


Thank you very much Brendan. Yanggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngunawal dhawra. Waggarralinjinyin mariny bulan bugarabang. I acknowledge we are gathered on the land of the Ngunnawal people and honour their elders past and present.

The Speaker, is obviously not here either he's in the house. Julie is here, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brendan, thank you. Kerry Stokes, the Chairman of the Australian War Memorial, Angus Campbell is Angus here? There he is he's right down the back. Good to see you and so many of our servicemen and women and of course the author, Emma, congratulations.

This is a fantastic book. Now Brendan has given me a copy, thank you Brendan. It's signed, it's very important to get books signed. Do you know why? Publishers always want them signed because they cannot be returned.

So your publisher will encourage you to sign as many as possible.

The Last Post ceremony which Brendan has made a daily feature at the War Memorial is really one of the remarkable innovations of Brendan's leadership at the Australian War Memorial.

Brendan you have invigorated the War Memorial in an extraordinary way. And I know you've had phenomenal from Kerry and your board and all your team but you've done an amazing job.

This book describes the story of the Last Post ceremonies and the servicemen and women who are remembered at those Last Post ceremonies.

Every one shines a light on another brushstroke telling the story of one of our forebears. It began five years ago with the story of Robert Poate, a young man from Canberra who served and died in Afghanistan at the age of 23. I understand Robert's parents Hugh and Janny are here with us today so I want to welcome them here.

I've attended several of the ceremonies including one that remembered Lucy's great uncle who was killed in the First World War and it is a remarkable occasion. I've seen school children standing there utterly spellbound.

You've often heard me say, one of the remarkable things about this building where we celebrate, where we practice, we always celebrate, we certainly practice the democratic freedoms of our nation. Here we are in Parliament. If you swing open the door from my office, the Prime Minister's Office right at the back of the building go into the Cabinet room where the decisions of government are made, goes through the Members Hall or through the Great Hall open the front doors. And what do you see across the lake but the Australian War Memorial.

A reminder that every freedom we practice here has been hard won and is being today hard held by the men and women of the Australian Defence Force. It is a constant reminder of all of us that everything we're doing has been won, freedoms we're exercising have been won by the service and sacrifice of those honoured at the War Memorial.

And it is also a reminder for those of us, like Julie and myself who sit in the Cabinet Room, making decisions to send our young men and women into harm's way, that we should always do so wisely, with good leadership, well thought out plans, all the equipment and resources they need, so they can complete their mission and return home to their families.

Now I want to refer to one story here in this book, which is a reminder of poignancy and the risks of service. Richard Warne was a private in the Australian Imperial Force in 1918.

He was awarded a Military Medal for Valour under fire. He was then recommended for a bar to his Military Medal and Mentioned in Dispatches. A very brave soldier. He was a Queenslander he came from the small village of Owanyilla just south of Maryborough.

Anyway he came home after the war and arrived in Brisbane on the evening of the 24th of August, 1919. He set off on a train headed to Rockhampton but as he neared his home and he learned that the train would not stop at Owanyilla, obviously wasn't a big enough station.

So he didn't want to face the crowds at Maryborough and make his own way home, he decided to jump off at the platform when the train slowed down, so I'll read from Emma's book.

"The early hours before dawn as the train reached the tiny village station. Warne woke Black his comrade and said goodbye, threw his kit bag off the train and jumped after it into the dark, his overcoat slung over his right arm. At about 7am the station guard picked up a kit bag a few feet from the platform and took it to the woman responsible for keeping the railway gates. Curious she followed along the tracks towards Maryborough and saw more luggage a little further on was the body of a man lying in a rock cutting by the track.

The woman sent her sister to the nearest neighbour for help. This turned out to be his father. Richard Warne Sr who lived less than a mile from the station. Mr Warne followed the woman to the railway track and found his son bloodied and broken, unconscious but still breathing. There was blood on his face and his right leg was almost severed above the knee.

His mother and younger sister soon arrived, he never regained consciousness and died with his father with him on the way to hospital.

He was just 21.”

Imagine, having survived the Western Front, he’d come home. His family, you can imagine their emotion. So many of their friends and neighbours sons had been killed and their boy was coming home and he died jumping off the train to so he could get to his family sooner.

This is a beautiful book. But it tells with such sensitivity and such eloquence one story after another. 30 stories, in their own way they represent the stories of the more than 102,000 names on the Memorial's roll of honour.

Emma, I want to thank you for your book. I want to thank you Brendan for the extraordinary leadership you've shown at the War Memorial and I want to commend to everyone as I am very proud to be asked to launch, The Last Post: Ceremony of Love, Loss and Remembrance at the Australian War Memorial, by Emma Campbell.

Transcript 41735