Australian PM highlights importance of WW1 in shaping nation

Australian troops in France, 1916

Australian troops in France, 1916

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has said Gallipoli was one of a ‘tide of events’ that shaped the Australian nation.

In his Anzac Day address at the Australian War Memorial, Abbott also called for Australians to remember the Western Front because it was ‘Australia’s moment on the stage of history’.

‘When all is said and done, Gallipoli was a defeat; but the Western Front a victory,’ he said. ‘Victories, even terrible ones, should be no less iconic than heroic defeats.’

Importance of Centenary

He added that the next four years would be special for Australia because they will mark the Centenary of the ‘Great War’.

‘This September is the anniversary of Australia’s first military action: the capture of German New Guinea,’ said the prime minister. ‘In November, we will remember the sailing of the first Anzac convoy guarded by a Japanese cruiser, as well as HMAS Sydney, and ships of the Royal Navy.

‘We will remember the charge at Beersheeba and the capture of Jerusalem and Damascus, spearheaded by the Australian Light Horse.

‘[But] above all else, we should remember the Western Front, not just for its carnage, but also for Australia’s moment on the stage of history.’

Abbott described such episodes as Australia’s ‘foundation stories’. ‘They should be as important to us as the ride of Paul Revere, or the last stand of King Harold at Hastings, or the incarceration of Nelson Mandela might be to others,’ he said.

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