Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.13 p.m.]: Last month we paused as a nation to mark Anzac Day on 25 April and to remember the supreme sacrifice our Australian and New Zealand troops have made in wartime conflict. It is a day steeped in history where we come together in the wider community to honour the brave men and women who fought so courageously under horrendous battle conditions.
This year there were record crowds at Anzac Day services across the Hornsby shire, with services in Hornsby, Berowra, Berowra Waters, Glenorie, Beecroft and Wahroonga. I was honoured to be able to attend four of the local services and to lay a wreath at each ceremony in remembrance of and to pay tribute to the brave men and women of the Hornsby area who served their nation in combat.
Local residents turned up in big numbers to the dawn service in Hornsby with up to 4,000 people braving the wet weather to watch the processional march from the Hornsby RSL Club to the Cenotaph. As always, the Hornsby RSL sub branch organised a wonderful ceremony. It continues to lift the bar and should be congratulated on its remarkable efforts. Special thanks must go to president Rod White, Gary Keenan, John Dean, Tony Mills and Terry James. The service was attended by Federal member for Berowra Philip Ruddock, Hornsby council mayor Steve Russell and Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. Following the service the entire community was invited to a free breakfast at the Hornsby RSL Club. The breakfast comprised bacon and eggs and, of course, a nip of whisky in the coffee. Gary Keenan and John Dean were very liberal with the whisky. Special thanks must go to the Hornsby RSL Club for hosting such a great event. I acknowledge in particular president Col Burke and Mario Machardo and his hardworking staff.
After the Hornsby service I travelled to the Berowra Cenotaph to join the Berowra RSL sub branch for a 7.00 a.m. service and a hot breakfast afterwards at the Berowra RSL Club. The team at the Berowra RSL sub branch does a terrific job. I congratulate the new president Mal Nearmy and thank him and my good friend and local icon Bob Dobson and other members of the committee—Sandra Hawkins, Jaimie Roberts, Ray Hawkins, Trevor Hanson and Roger O'Kell. The Berowra RSL Club put on a terrific breakfast and I acknowledge the team at the club for its great work, in particular, Greg Fiedler, Garth Lindsay, Johnny Muirhead and Murray Bolan. It was good to see the directors of the club on the barbecue, cooking up a storm. I also thank the hardworking staff at the Berowra RSL Club.
In the afternoon I joined Glenorie RSL Club chief executive officer Bob Frier, Hills council mayor Michelle Byrne, the member for Hawkesbury Ray Williams and Hornsby councillor and ex-Navy officer Mick Gallagher at the Glenorie Anzac Day service. This service was attended by a large crowd that was treated to a speech by former immigration Minister Philip Ruddock and a musical performance from a local music act singing Redgum's famous cover song I Was Only Nineteen. Anzac Day concluded with a small, intimate service at Wahroonga's Kokoda Track Memorial. This service is special to me as I grew up nearby and every year I attend the service with my family and close friends. I acknowledge event organiser Greg Hodgson for his continued passion and enthusiasm in continuing to develop the dusk service, even though he has now moved to the Southern Highlands.
Greg was the driving force behind the Kokoda Track Memorial and has organised the service for the past nine years. I look forward to seeing him again next year when the Wahroonga community will celebrate the memorial's 10-year anniversary. Throughout all the services I was delighted to see organisers place a special emphasis on honouring the service personnel from our nation's recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is important to remember that conflicts across the globe are many and ongoing. There may have not been as many casualties suffered by the soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq as were experienced during the two major world wars but they also carry the scars of conflict and have important stories to tell. Anzac Day services were also held at two retirement homes in my electorate—the Lakes of Cherrybrook and Rowland Village in Galston.
I congratulate Annette Clark from the Lakes of Cherrybrook and Olivia Harris from Rowland Village, Galston on their hard work behind the scenes to give residents an opportunity to pay their respects. I pay tribute to Rowland Village's special guest speaker, Lieutenant Geoff Evans. Lieutenant Evans is now retired from the Army but he spoke to residents about his role in Afghanistan and the horrors of war which will stay with him for the rest of his life. Lieutenant Evans is the latest generation of Anzacs to represent our nation. His service should be honoured in the same way as we honour our troops who fought in earlier conflicts, including Vietnam and Korea. In just a few years these soldiers will remain to march in our services and uphold the Anzac legend.
I am encouraged by the spirit and dedication of the younger generation to get involved in Anzac Day services. This year over 20 schools sent representatives to attend services in the Hornsby shire. These students represented their schools and the wider community with pride as they joined in the march and delivered speeches to the assembled crowd. I thank the school principals in my electorate for their continued organisational efforts in supporting Anzac Day. Anzac Day continues to evolve each year as those taking part in the various marches and memorial services change over time. It is important that we continue to remember those who have sacrificed much for the freedoms that we enjoy in this great country of ours. It is up to all of us to honour and remember them. Lest we forget.