Speech by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial opening

Location: Kings Domain, Melbourne


Can I start by also adding my acknowledgment of country.

I would also like to acknowledge Premier Daniel Andrews, the Shadow Minister for Veterans, David Feeney, President of the Victorian Upper House, Shadow Ministers Damien Drum and Inga Peulich, Georgie Crozier, Lord Mayor, former Premier Ted Ballieu, Turkish Ambassador Reha Keskintepe, Consul General, many many distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman.

As the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, it is my very great pleasure to be here on behalf of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, for the opening of the Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial, ‘Seeds of Friendship‘.

Senator Ronaldson regrets that a long-standing engagement prevents him from being here in person.

However, he looks forward to travelling to Turkey next week to mark the 100th anniversary of the landing of ANZAC forces at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

As the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign fast approaches, it is appropriate to turn our minds to the origins of the strong bonds that bring us together.

The battles at Gallipoli have a special place in the history of relations between Australia and Turkey.

Mutually respectful and friendly ties, borne uniquely out of a fiercely fought military campaign, have continued to develop to this day.

While the Turkish forces were victorious over the Allies at Gallipoli, victory came at a terrible cost with some 80,000 Turks killed in the campaign.

As the Minister has said on past occasions, the men who fought against each other on the Gallipoli peninsula 100 years ago did not do so out of hatred – they answered their nation’s call and did what they were ordered to do.

After all, it was after the Third Battle of Krithia in May 1915 when an unofficial truce was declared between our waring nations so that the dead could be afforded the proper burial they deserved.

This friendship, in the midst of battle, underscores our two nations’ relationship today.

The Gallipoli Peninsula was a place where extraordinary deeds of bravery were performed on both sides.

Today Australians and Turks stand beside each other in friendship and this beautiful sculpture, ‘Seeds of Friendship’, serves to remind us of our unique connection.

This year there will be 10,000 Australians and New Zealanders travelling to Turkey to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who are no longer with us.

We are grateful for the Turkish support in respecting our dead, and for welcoming us in our annual pilgrimages to honour them.

During the Centenary of ANZAC 2014 to 2018, we mark a century of service and sacrifice, encompassing all wars, conflicts and peace operations in which Australia has been involved.

The Centenary is the most significant period of commemoration in our nation’s history.

And, as such, the Australian Government is pleased to be supporting a number of commemorative, educational and cultural initiatives through the Anzac Centenary national programme.

I am especially pleased that we have been able to provide more than $130,000 to support the creation of this sculpture through both the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program and through the Major Commemorative Grants category of the Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants programme.

An enduring legacy of the Anzac Centenary national programme will be an increased awareness and understanding of our wartime history, especially for younger generations.

The ‘Seeds of Friendship‘ sculpture echoes our intention by being a catalyst for education, with a focus on the present and future, while acknowledging the past.

Gallipoli serves a symbol of how the shared experience of battle can bring former enemies together in the quest for a better and more peaceful world.

Thank you.