Josh Wilson MP’s Fremantle College ANZAC Day Address

When we heard local Federal Freo MP, Josh Wilson, had delivered a compelling ANZAC Day address on the topic of War and Peace to Fremantle College students on 26 April, we asked Mr Wilson’s permission – which he kindly and readily gave – to republish it here on the Shipping News. Here it is, together with some photographs of the setting at the College in which the speech was delivered.

Kaya, good morning everyone: it’s a privilege to share this ANZAC service with you.

I acknowledge that we gather here on the lands of the Whadjuk-Noongar people, and I
also acknowledge any current or former Defence force personnel who are present here

Ladies and gentlemen, students: this is an occasion on which we remember and pay
respect to those who have served and suffered in conflict through their participation in the
Australian Defence Force.

The 25th of April of course marks the first landing of Australian troops at Gallipoli in the
course of the First World War – but Australians have been involved in several wars and
other conflicts. And ADF personnel have also been involved in a number of significant
peacekeeping efforts – especially in our region, including in East Timor through
INTERFET and in Solomon Islands through RAMSI.

Those contributions are formally commemorated on 14 September, which is National
Peacekeepers Day.

But I wanted to mention peacekeepers today out of recognition that for a lot of young
people, the events of the last couple of years have been confronting and perhaps

Two years ago, Russia invaded Ukraine – and that conflict sadly continues. And last
year, following an unspeakable terrorist attack by Hamas, we’ve seen the resumption of
an awful and long-running conflict between Israel and Palestine.

In both cases, the impact on innocent civilians is widespread and brutal.

Once upon a time, Australians would have experienced the terrible reality of war by
reading newspapers and maybe watching very brief snippets of bad-quality black-and-
white television.

Today, smartphone technology and social media can mean that all of us are confronted
with full-colour detail of the worst of humanity.

I’m not making an argument that we should remain ignorant about the reality of war. But
it’s not a good thing for young people to feel despair about the world, or even worse – to
feel they can’t make a contribution to peacefulness.

So today I want to remind you that the trajectory of the world since the end of World War
II has in fact been towards fewer wars, smaller conflicts, less human harm through
military action, and more peace.

That’s a good thing. And Australia has played its part in that trend by participating in the
global community, almost all of the time, in support of conflict resolution by peaceful
means. By talking. By supporting disarmament. By promoting international agreements
that seek to avoid violent military conflict.

On ANZAC day we pay respect to the Australian women and men who have served our
country in the ADF without pause in a wide range of circumstances, including
peacekeeping and humanitarian response efforts, for more than a hundred years – and
they continue that service today.

ANZAC day should always be a reminder that in times of crisis our values and our best
qualities shine through. That in times of crisis we can choose to respond, not by pulling
apart, or by losing hope, but by coming together and caring for one another, in solidarity,
compassion, and good humour.

And when we’re fortunate to live in a time of peace in this country, we should remember
that peace is not just the absence of conflict. That peace is a positive state of affairs in
itself. Indeed, the most consistent message from those who have fought in war and
survived, is that war is a terrible thing, and conflict should be avoided as much as it can
be avoided.

At the same time, peace – which is the necessary foundation of all that is good in life –
peace should be valued and promoted and maintained with everything that we can bring
to that task.

And all of us can make a contribution to peace in our conduct and through our decisions
by choosing kindness, understanding, patience, and forbearance – and I encourage
young people to have the courage to practice peacefulness, and to resist the temptation
to regard conflict as the best or only solution.

I strongly believe that we best honour those who served our country, and who sacrificed
their lives or their health, by remembering and respecting what they experienced; and by
heeding the lessons of their suffering and sacrifice.

Once again, thank you for again having me as your guest on this special day.

* You can see more of our 2024 ANZAC Day reporting, galleries and Letter to the Editor right here

** If you’d like to COMMENT on this or any of our stories, don’t hesitate to email our Editor.


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