News Parliament


The extraordinary Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience exhibition recently visited the Calare electorate. It is presented during the Anzac Centenary, spanning 2014 to 2018—the most significant period of commemoration in our nation’s history. It is the largest travelling exhibition in Australia since the 1988 bicentennial exhibition, and it serves as a moving and dignified account of the actions of not only our First World War service men and women but also those who remained home and sustained them from afar, as well as those who have kept the peace and responded to humanitarian crises across the globe since Federation

One of the most important legacies of the Anzac Centenary period is an increased understanding and awareness of our wartime history, particularly amongst younger Australians. Over 40,000 school students have visited this exhibition. Orange was the 21st location for the exhibition. In an important milestone, it welcomed the 300,000th visitor to the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience since it opened in September 2015 in Wodonga—an amazing achievement. I was delighted to not only welcome the exhibition to Orange but also officially open it, representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.

The Great War left virtually no Australian family untouched by its horror. From a population of fewer than five million, over 416,000 men enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. Like so many communities across Australia, the central west region of New South Wales made a very significant contribution to Australia's First World War effort.

On 10 October 1915, Captain Bill Hitchen and 25 men marched from Gilgandra to Sydney on the Coo-ee March—named after the cry used to enlist more than 260 men for the war along the way. The community zone of the exhibition—a highly popular feature—showcases historical artefacts from the local region. A photo of the Coo-ee Marchers at the Wade Park pavilion, marching down Summer Street, is featured. William Edwin Agland, former assistant town clerk in Orange and the son of the Orange mayor, wrote from England to express his disgust at the no result in the October conscription referendum. He said that they 'should be over here, up to their bellies in mud and slush and fighting for freedom, instead of waltzing up and down Summer Street, making eyes at the pretty girls.'

Orange can also lay claim to Australia’s first Victoria Cross winner. The story of Sir Neville Howse is also featured in the community zone. He won his VC during the Boer War and also served at Gallipoli. He survived and became a fierce campaigner for the rights of returned soldiers, as well as becoming the member for Calare.

The Orange RSL sub-branch boasts 120 members. It played an important role in putting together the community zone at the exhibition, and I would like to make mention of the committee members. They include Les McGaw, the honorary secretary, treasurer, custodian of the cenotaph, and recruiting and membership officer; and Lindsay Wright, the president and also the recruiting and membership officer. It should be noted that I have undertaken to procure for Lindsay a new hat this Christmas, as he badly needs one. The members also include: Ros Davidson, vice-president; Chris Colvin, vice-president; Allister Kable, pension and welfare officer; Tony Gosper, trustee; and Graham Scott, custodian of the cenotaph.

During the Centenary of Anzac, so many of our RSL sub-branches across Calare are paying tribute to the service and sacrifice of our ancestors. We acknowledge the vital contribution that these sub-branches make to our country communities.

The Canowindra RSL sub-branch has 20 members. Its committee is made up of Michael Harrison, the president; David Cullane, the vice-president; Christina Sampson, the secretary; Ian McLlvain, the treasurer; Noelene Liccioni, a trustee; and Ellen Brown, a trustee.

The Molong RSL sub-branch committee includes: David Bloomfield, the president; Tristan Cronin, vice-president; Kenneth Roberts, vice-president; Edward Carpenter, the treasurer; Michael Few, the honorary secretary and trustee; David Townsend, the parade marshall; and Greg Ruming, the welfare officer. They all do a wonderful job.

The Bathurst RSL sub-branch has over 230 members. Its committee consists of: Leslie Anderson, the honorary secretary, and the recruiting and membership officer; David Mills, president; Jennifer Brennan, vice-president; John Graham, vice-president; Brett Kenworthy, treasurer; William Abbott, trustee; Roy Brownlow, trustee; Bruce Irvine, trustee; Bradley Hock, pension officer; and Brian Tobin JP, the pension and welfare officer.

Neville Stapleton is the honorary secretary and treasurer of the Oberon RSL sub-branch. William Wilcox is the president, Peter Perry is a vice-president, Greg Reid is a vice-president and Elaine Boxer is the trustee. The Oberon RSL sub-branch has 30 members.

I do not have an opportunity to name all of our wonderful sub-branches tonight, but the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience exhibition is a poignant tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women who went to war for Australia. I pay tribute to them and to the RSL sub-branches and their important work.

Question agreed to.