Anzac Day at Hallett Cove

13 May 2015

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 15:31:34 ): I rise today to let the house know of the very special commemorative event hosted at Hallett Cove on ANZAC Day morning 2015.

As up to 5,000 locals gathered on the foreshore at 6am, a lone piper hauntingly drew the crowd's attention to the focal point of the commemoration: Hallett Cove's new foreshore ANZAC memorial, with Gulf St Vincent and the rugged, rocky arc of the cove as its backdrop.

The new memorial touches the earth lightly. It is a simple, low wall with the words 'Lest we forget' placed on it. Two flagpoles stretch upward to where the Australian and New Zealand flags billow in this oft windy spot. The community-led dawn service at Hallett Cove's foreshore was the first ever to be held in the area, and in many ways symbolised a coming of age of this community. Hallett Cove residents live here because they love the coast, and for the first time, their foreshore has been activated with the installation of this special memorial. A unique sense of place has been created.

The vision for the new memorial grew directly out of the community over the last few years, and the initiative was taken up by the Lions Club of Hallett Cove and Districts. The club worked alongside former councillor Cheryl Connor and I to persuade the City of Marion to embrace the vision as part of their foreshore upgrade. It took a fair effort to get the council on board, but the fight to make Hallett Cove's memorial a reality was all worth it when, on ANZAC morning, this place became the poignant focal point of our community's demonstrations of respectful gratitude.

As many members would know, the weather leading up to ANZAC morning was not great, but we were blessed with a break in the rain and wind for the dawn service, and a stillness settled over the cove as the bagpiper finished his lament and Councillor Tim Gard, the master of ceremonies, commenced proceedings. I am reminded that our diggers did not pack up and leave the trenches when the weather turned bad, and I trust the crowds were not too diminished from what they might have been by the threat of rain.

All of those who attended were invited to attend a community breakfast at the Lions Club Perry Barr Farm shed, where the Lions were presented with an Australian flag which had been flown at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan by Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel Tony Connor, whose mother Cheryl Connor was, as mentioned previously, a vocal proponent of the new memorial.

To the Lions Club of Hallett Cove, and in particular to long-serving member Graeme Botting, I want to formally acknowledge both the club and Graeme for all they did to make this memorial and Hallett Cove's first ANZAC dawn service a reality. Without Graeme's leadership and the club's endless dedication not only to the vision but also to our community, we would not have recognised the fallen at Hallett Cove. Graeme and the club are true community heroes and their roles in keeping the memory of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli alive is a very special thing. I look forward to ANZAC at the Cove becoming an annual event which engages many local residents in commemoration.

ANZAC commemorations are, as with all remembrance occasions, an incredibly important part of our heritage and our national values. We must not forget, and the primary purpose of remembrance must be to focus on the challenges, futilities and tragedies of war. Make no mistake: war is horror wrought by human hands.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in attending ANZAC commemorations. Sometimes we hear the word 'celebration' drift into the lexicon. I believe that those of us privileged enough with leadership positions in our communities must do our utmost to steer our society away from the drift towards celebration and glorification of war. Over the coming months and years, as we gather to mark centenary events for a range of World War I battles and other events, we must commemorate, not glorify; bow our heads, not wave flags; honour, not celebrate; and, above all, give quiet thanks for their sacrifice.

Extracted from Hansard