SENATOR THE HON CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI – WELLS
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES LIBERAL SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance ANZAC Centenary Dinner
The Waterview, Bicentennial Park, Homebush
20 March 2015
Can I thank for your warm welcome and start by acknowledging my Federal Parliamentary colleagues, Shadow Minister Jason Clare and Laurie Fergusson; my State colleague Linda Volz; Associate Minister for Foreign Affairs for New Zealand, the Honourable Todd McClay; Auburn Mayor Ronny Oueik and Councillor Semra Batik; Ambassador; Consuls General; Ertunc Ozen thank you so much to you and to your office bearers of the Alliance and member associations for your kind invitation here today; Acting President of RSL Peter Stephenson OAM; many distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen.
As Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, it’s my very great pleasure to be here this evening representing both the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Tony Abbott MP and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and for the Centenary of ANZAC, Senator the Honourable Michael Ronaldson.
Both the Prime Minister and the Minister have asked me to pass on their best wishes as we gather to the mark 100 years of friendship between our two nations.
The Prime Minister has also asked me to read the following message on his behalf:
As Australia commemorates the centenary of the First World War, we remember the tide of events that shaped our nation.
This year we mark the Centenary of the landings at Gallipoli.
During the dawn of 25 April 1915, Australian troops came ashore at Anzac Cove. This was the beginning of Australia’s “baptism of fire”.
One hundred years on, we remember the sacrifice of those who died on the battlefields of Gallipoli, the Western Front and in the Middle East, the suffering of those who were wounded and the mental and physical scars of those who made it home.
To them, we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. Their courage, mateship and sacrifice leave us the enduring legacy of a free and peaceful nation.
From out of the suffering of war, a deep and lasting friendship emerged between Australia and Turkey.
It is a friendship that bridges the separation of distance and honours the sentiments of the founder and first president of the modern Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk:
“There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours … Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
This year, we celebrate the ‘Year of Australia in Turkey 2015’and the parallel event, ‘Year of Turkey in Australia 2015’ – extended festivals which will further international social and cultural understanding.
I express my gratitude to everyone who has gathered for this Anzac Centenary Dinner to commemorate this historic anniversary. It is a fitting tribute to the memory of those who gave so much.
The Honourable Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister of Australia, 20 March 2015
The strong friendship between Australia and Turkey has brought us both many benefits and will continue to do so as our nations grow and prosper.
The people of Australia and Turkey share a common past.
As early as 1911, the Australian Census records the presence of 300 Turkish people contributing to our nation building working some in the most remote and harsh areas of this continent, such as cameleers on the Ghan route.1
The centenary of friendship we celebrate tonight began in a very unlikely place. It was at Gallipoli in 1915, while our nations were locked in war.
Our first act of friendship was to lead a Turkish officer through the ANZAC lines to negotiate a truce to bury the dead on the battlefield.2
It was a turning point when grieving soldiers from both sides met as they interred the remains of their comrades.
Through this simple act, based on human decency and dignity, both sides gained each other’s respect. Both sides could see it takes humanity to defeat war.3i
Several months later, also in Gallipoli, Edward McMahon, a bandmaster from Boulder in Western Australia, played The Rosary on his trumpet.4
It was an internationally popular German song and on that windless night, he knew that the German officers in the Turkish Army would recognise the tune.
His music silenced intense gunfire.
Both sides listened. Both sides stopped shooting to appreciate the humanity in that trumpeter’s art.
As those times past, our nations have achieved reconciliation and become committed friends.
We work well as partners on the world stage, both in troubled times and during Turkey’s emergence as an economic powerhouse.
In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.”
Tonight, the Australian Government is delighted to celebrate the success of our good friend Turkey.
We believe this success will propel Turkey into the top ten world economies by the year 2050 and recognise the rewards that will bring.
The value of two-way trade between our nations grew to an impressive $1.6 billion in 2013. And it will increase as Australia’s social and economic links grow with Turkey’s young and growing population of 75 million people.
The Australian Government is focused on expanding trade and investment opportunities between our countries.
I mentioned earlier the first Turkish settlers who came to help build Australia.
Since World War Two, Australia has become home to at least 70,000 Turkish Australians today.
Unlike the guest-worker schemes in other countries, Australia offered a special place in its migration programme to whole families from Turkey, as permanent residents.
Our nation embraced these people and as the Prime Minister has said in his message, 2015 marks not just the ANZAC Centenary but also the ‘Year of Turkey in Australia’, which is being reciprocated as the ‘Year of Australia in Turkey’.
As the daughter of a migrants myself, I have witnessed the richness each wave of migrants adds to our cultural wealth and interest.
This wealth is seen in treasured assets like the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Auburn. It was modelled on Ottoman-style mosques of Istanbul and decorated by specialist artisans from Turkey.
Australia will celebrate our many cultural riches tomorrow, on Harmony Day.
Harmony Day involves thousands of events so all Australians can acknowledge the social and economic benefits of cultural diversity.
The day marks the contribution by migrants and their families spanning generations, which helped create the Australia we enjoy today.
Today, one in every four Australians was born overseas.
We identify with about 300 ancestries and we speak as many languages and this makes us one of the most culturally diverse and democratic nations on earth.
Our many cultures helped make us one of the most prosperous and cohesive nations in the world. The Australian Government is proud of this. We support diversity.
Our policies and programmes welcome and help migrants take part in our communities as soon as possible after they arrive.
But Governments can only do so much. It is in our local communities where the Australian family comes together and Turkish Australians have been model citizens in this.
I would like to conclude by commending the Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance and its many member organisations for marking the ANZAC Centenary with tonight’s dinner and also for giving the Australian Government the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ on the first hundred years of our friendship.
I wish you the all the best with your vision, your projects and your activities as we enter the next chapter of multicultural Australia’s great success story.
You have made, and continue to make, a great contribution to this success.