Published on: May 2021
North Shore Electorate Anzac Day Commemoration
Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (16:20:42):
It has been 106 years since Australian troops landed on the Turkish coastline at Gallipoli. Reflecting on and marking the spirit and mateship of that day has become deeply embedded in our history as we come together on Anzac Day to celebrate the lives of the courageous service men and women who have sacrificed greatly for this country. This year was particularly special, after our traditional Anzac Day ceremonies could not proceed last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Nevertheless, as we all know, Australians did not stop commemorating our heroes last year. We found new ways to celebrate our Anzac spirit by lighting up the dawn with candles from driveways and many other different activities.
Today I commend the people of the North Shore and recognise their efforts in making Anzac Day ceremonies possible this year. I had the great pleasure of joining my local community for a number of services. I joined with the Kirribilli RSL Sub-Branch at the Kirribilli Club and the Mosman RSL Sub-Branch at the Mosman War Memorial for pre-Anzac Day services the Sunday before Anzac Sunday. I thank Kirribilli sub‑branch president Julian Robinson and Mosman president Peter Watson for leading these services and putting together a beautiful tribute to our service men and women. I also thank the students and teachers of Mosman High School and principal Susan Wyatt, who organised a touching service at the school assembly, with all of the year 7 students in attendance.
The school also welcomed Peter from the Mosman RSL Sub-Branch to deliver a speech on the day. He spoke quite extensively about history and tradition and his own experiences within the Royal Australian Navy. He also spoke about some of the characteristics that we hold dear and reflect on during Anzac Day. In particular, he spoke at some length about respect. I speak with students and staff at Mosman High School about that quite regularly. I know it is definitely part of the ethos of that school. The school prides itself on inclusion and respect of other people and students. I felt that the service reflected the very character of the students and leadership at that school.
The dawn of 25 April 2021 in all of our communities brought with it a true sense of solemnity. I attended the North Sydney RSL Sub-Branch service at the North Sydney cenotaph together with probably thousands of local attendees. Once again, it is a very well‑attended and much‑loved service. I thank North Sydney RSL Sub‑Branch president Alex Wilson and vice‑president Geoff Watson for the moving service. Together as a community, we reflected on the bravery of the men and women who fought for the rights and freedoms of this nation. That dawn service is particularly beautiful because it brings together so many of our schools, students and community groups from around the community. A number of schools laid wreaths on the day. There were representatives from Wenona, St Mary's and Marist schools, North Sydney Demonstration School, Cammeray and North Sydney scouts, North Sydney boys school and North Sydney girls school. A whole range of representatives in our community participated. It just shows the involvement of the local community in this service and the way in which the RSL sub‑branch has been able to redefine its service over the years to become something the community is a part of rather than just observing. One of our favourite features of the North Sydney cenotaph service is when we have Kamahl participate. Kamahl joined us to sing an incredibly moving song at the end of the service and we all had shivers, as the dawn lit up the sky, to hear Kamahl's tribute to Australia and Australia's service men and women.
I reflect on a couple of the servicemen who live in my community and their stories. David John McDowell, who was president of Kirribilli RSL sub-Branch for 15 years, served in the Australian Army as a national serviceman. He was posted to South Vietnam from September 1969 to May 1970 as part of the 101st Field Battery in the Royal Australian Artillery, providing support as an artillery gunner signaller. He handled weapons with high explosives, white phosphorous and illuminating rounds. A few years later he returned to Sydney before being discharged and joined the RSL. A sobering read of his military service can be found in his book titled . Alan Toner was enlisted in the Australian Army in 1999 as a rifleman and moved across the country to train as a marine specialist. In August 2001 he embarked on a Landing Craft Mechanized, Mark 8 river boat and headed towards the Torres Strait Islands to resupply communities with crucial resources. He has been incredibly involved in a range of different peacekeeping missions, including work throughout the north Arabian Gulf and Kuwait, before heading to Iraq. Those are just some of the stories of servicemen within my community. Lest we forget.